Legal Aid Testifies on Bills to Combat Illegal Boarding Houses

Joshua Goldfein of Legal Aid's Homeless Rights Project testified at a joint hearing of the City Council's General Welfare and Housing and Buildings committees along with Legal Aid's client Coalition for the Homeless on behalf of a set of five bills to combat illegal boarding houses.

These dangerous living situations, also known as "three-quarter housing," are unlicensed private homes in which unscrupulous operators cram as many bunk beds as they can fit, in violation of fire and building codes, and collect rents for each bed from vulnerable New Yorkers with no other housing options. As exposed in a series in the New York Times last year, many of these operators get illegal kickbacks from substance abuse treatment programs who rely on them as a source of referrals.

Three-quarter houses are the homes of last resort for many of the Society's clients, who come to them from jails and prisons, hospitals, in patient programs and other facilities caring for people with high levels of need. The proposed bills would enhance the City's efforts to crack down on the abuses these clients face, including illegal evictions, Medicaid fraud, and denial of required relocation services by the City.