In August, the Harlem Community Justice Center hosted a Housing Resource Fair that connected local residents with a wide range of agencies and providers to help them access key services, such as rent relief, critical home repairs, and legal services to fight evictions.
“We know from our housing work that sometimes when a case gets to court it’s already too late. There are so many opportunities to respond to the human needs, and provide that justice before you need to go to court,” said Viviana Gordon, a housing advocate at the Center for Court Innovation.
The fair showcased the tremendous demand for housing stability services in the East Harlem community and the Justice Center’s ongoing efforts to help residents access resources and tenant protections close to their homes.
More than 300 people attended the fair, which took place in Harlem Art Park, adjacent to the Justice Center. The Justice Center’s courtroom has been closed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to re-open after building repairs. Meanwhile, the Justice Center's mobile housing help center has continued to work closely with East Harlem residents and stakeholders to increase housing security and prevent evictions.
However, with rent being owed, new petitions being filed, and homes in need of essential repairs, it is critical to ensure housing courts are accessible, fair, and can provide much-needed resources. Community-based justice centers, like the Harlem Community Justice Center, are tried-and-true solutions that can help bridge the gap in services and assistance to help individuals maintain safe, stable housing and resolve legal cases in their own neighborhoods.
“Housing is basically always a crisis in New York…there’s a particularly persistent issue here in Harlem and East Harlem,” shared Chris Helwig from Neighborhood Defender Service. Secure housing is the foundation of strong, healthy communities. Our holistic approach to issues that deeply affect residents’ lives is the type of problem-solving, individualized approach to safety and justice that our Harlem Community Justice Center is designed to provide to the East Harlem community—and has for more than 20 years.