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City Council Moves Ahead With Plan to Give Evicted Residents Free Legal Services (NJ)

Monday, December 24, 2018

City Council Moves Ahead With Plan to Give Evicted Residents Free Legal Services

"NEWARK, NJ - Groundwork for a program that would give free legal representation to low-income city residents facing eviction was approved by city council recently, but questions still remain about how it will be funded.

The ordinance has stalled on a final vote for months because a group of community organizations working with city council on the language wanted to know which city department legal organizations would answer to and how the program would be budgeted for.

The measure, that was approved last Wednesday, creates a new Office of Tenant Legal Services within the city's Department of Economic and Housing Development. A director for the new office will also be hired.

The program won’t start until April 1, which gives the city time to devise a budget for the program. The city will look into creating a landlord-tenant fund to collect donated money from interested law firms that will help pay for the program. However, such a fund will have to adhere to state and federal laws.

“We're going to have a fund created so that lawyers and other nonprofits and for-profits can donate money because they already indicated that they will,” Newark Corporation Counsel Kenyatta Stewart explained to council members. “A number of law firms have already agreed to put hours towards helping this process to defend these people who need our help.”

The new director will also submit a proposed annual budget, which will be considered at a budget hearing conducted by city officials such as the mayor or business administrator..."

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