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Readers sound off on Housing Court, Mitch McConnell and transportation in Queens

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23.09.2021

Manhattan: We write to respond to the op-ed “Reopening Housing Court is wrong” (Sept. 20). The authors claim that New York City Housing Court has a new “haphazard plan... to pack tenants into notoriously crowded Housing Court buildings.” This claim is false and unfounded. As the administrators of the Housing Court, we are taking careful, measured steps to safely increase our operations as New York City continues its recovery from the pandemic. Other city agencies, including schools, have reopened and activities throughout the city have resumed.

The authors fail to include that all tenants in Housing Court will continue to have attorneys assigned to represent them through a virtual process. We have been doing this for more than a year. Then, in a limited number of cases, on a single occasion, counsel will be asked to appear in person. All other cases will continue to be heard virtually, and the in-person cases will continue virtually if they are not resolved. The tenant is not required to attend. Only three to five in-person cases will be scheduled in a courtroom at once. Courtrooms located next to each other will not have in-person cases at the same time. Masks are required of everyone and congregating in the hallways will not be permitted.

In the first eight months of 2021, while complying with all local, state and national eviction moratoria, we were able to dispose of more than 30,000 cases, most by agreement of the landlord and the tenant. By safely adding a limited number of in-person cases, we will be able to resolve more cases, encourage more landlords and tenants to take advantage of current rental assistance programs and avoid an overwhelming crush of cases when the moratorium ends in January 2022 — all results that would benefit litigants. Carolyn Walker-Diallo, administrative judge, Civil Court of the City of New York, and Jean T. Schneider, citywide supervising judge, New York City Housing Court

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