Connecticut bill seeks right to counsel in eviction proceedings
03/04/2021, Legislation, Housing - Evictions
UPDATE: Additional statewide right to counsel bill filed, has hearing
A new bill, HB 6531, has been filed that would provide a right to counsel for all indigent tenants facing eviction. On March 4, 2021, the bill had a hearing before the House Housing Committee at which many people testified in support.
The Connecticut Mirror covered the introduction of the bill and noted that in the last 3 months, fewer than 5% of tenants had appeared with counsel for eviction proceedings.
UPDATE: Statewide right to counsel bill filed
UPDATE: Connecticut DSA launches right to counsel petition drive
In January 2021, the Connecticut chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) launched a campaign calling on the Connecticut Legislature to provide a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction.
UPDATE: bill introduced to provide right to counsel in evictions
In 2019, a bill emerged from the Task Force's recommendations: SB 652 would guarantee a right to counsel statewide for tenants making less than $50,000 who are in an eviction proceeding. An op-ed in the Harford Courant notes that Three cities in Connecticut are on the list of the top 50 eviction rates in the nation, and four are in the top 100.
In 2016, Connecticut Senate Bill 426 created a new legislative task force to explore the right to counsel in civil cases. After meeting several times over the course of the year, the Task Force issued its Final Report in December 2016. Among other recommendations, the Report called for the state to
Establish a statutory right to civil counsel in three crucial areas where the fiscal and social cost of likely injustice significantly outweighs the fiscal cost of civil counsel:
The Report suggested the first step in implementation is "establishing a right to counsel pilot program for at least one or more of three areas of critical need: restraining order, family unity (child custody and detained removal
proceedings), and residential eviction cases. " Connecticut News Junkie has more about the release of the Report. The Task Force had the backing of many Connecticut leaders, including the Connecticut Bar Association President, the Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, the Senate President, and the dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law. You can read more about the Task Force at Fox 61, Hartford Courant, and Caifornia Courts Monitor, Also, you can check out the website of the Task Force.
The NCCRC has provided technical support to the campaign and testified on HB 6531.