“Protect Our Homes” Initiative to Combat Deed Theft Will Now Also Focus on Illegal Evictions
New York Attorney General Letitia James and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that they will be expanding their joint homeowner protection initiative to include protections for renters in New York City. The “Protect Our Homes” initiative, launched in January 2020 to educate New Yorkers about deed theft and other housing scams, will now include support for New Yorkers threatened with illegal evictions and other issues plaguing renters. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession, more New Yorkers are struggling to remain in their homes, and as a result, there is an increased risk for illegal evictions, deed theft, and other housing scams.
In January 2020, Attorney General James launched the office’s “Protect Our Homes” initiative with the formation of an interagency taskforce to focus on deed theft and homeowner fraud issues. The taskforce includes District Attorneys from all five boroughs in New York City and the New York City Sheriff’s Office. Attorney General James and District Attorney Gonzalez will convene a meeting of the expanded taskforce on Thursday, July 16, that will include The Legal Aid Society, Legal Services NYC, and other providers of eviction prevention services in New York City. The taskforce will now expand its efforts to include issues targeting renters and evictions.
“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are on the verge of an acute housing crisis in New York,” said Attorney General James. “Longtime homeowners in New York City were already grappling with deed theft fraud, and economically challenged renters will soon be facing evictions. I am committed to working with District Attorney Gonzalez and our other government and legal service partners to use a combination of education and enforcement to help our neighbors stay in their homes.”
“The impending housing crisis in Brooklyn will have devastating effects on our community,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Gonzalez. “We must do everything in our power to protect homeowners and renters from unscrupulous actors. I look forward to continue working with Attorney General James to ensure every Brooklynite can be safe in their home.”
As housing courts begin to reopen and the eviction moratoriums lift, New Yorkers who lost their jobs and income due to the COVID-19 pandemic are at high risk for eviction. The taskforce will discuss emerging trends that are putting people at risk of displacement, review complaints, and take appropriate action as needed. The taskforce will also work to educate renters facing eviction about their rights, and, as appropriate, connect them with lawyers through New York City’s Right to Counsel law.