The Problem

Low-income New Yorkers face unsafe housing conditions, pollution and preventable health problems

Low-income New Yorkers face unsafe housing conditions, pollution and preventable health problems

Our communities suffer from preventable health problems connected to pollution and unsafe housing conditions, including asthma, which is the number one cause of school absences in the city. Green spaces in our neighborhoods are not as plentiful and well-kept as they should be, depriving our children of places to play and grow. Our members regularly experience housing discrimination — based on gender identity, sexual orientation, family makeup, or immigration status. Tenants face difficulties obtaining much-needed repairs from landlords, some of whom aim to push out lower-income tenants and hike up the rent.

See the Solution
The Solution

Organizing tenants for a cleaner, greener New York

Make the Road New York uses a community education model that builds a network of peer leaders and educators through the Housing and Environmental Justice Project. Tenants meet weekly to discuss troubles with landlords and their rights as tenants, and to organize for safe, affordable housing for our families.Our work spurred the creation of the Alternative Enforcement Program, which ensures repairs in 250 of New York City’s worst buildings every year.

Our attorneys annually represent hundreds of families in housing court cases involving evictions and hazardous conditions. We also represent clients facing discrimination, often related to source of income, family status and gender identity. Unlike many nonprofit legal services, we routinely support tenants who are forced to leave their apartments, obtaining waivers of back rent and time to find new apartments to avoid homelessness. MRNY works to expand rent regulation and stabilization across the city, which are critical to preserving affordable housing for over a million working class New Yorkers.

tenants or more
receive legal services from MRNY each year to prevent evictions, repair unsafe housing units, and win hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.
Fast Facts
  • Filed a case on behalf of five Bushwick tenants, after years of neglect by the landlord. The building had no hot water, and leaks caused some of the ceilings to collapse. When tenants raised the issues with their landlord, they faced threats like eviction and police involvement. After MRNY started the case, the landlord restored hot water and heat, and the case is ongoing.
  • Pushed for passage of “Certification of No Harassment” (CONH) legislation, requiring landlords to prove they have not harassed current tenants for renovation permit approvals, preventing landlords from pushing low-income and undocumented tenants out of gentrifying neighborhoods.
  • Won the Asthma-Free Housing Act, legislation to fix hazardous conditions for thousands of tenants, including mold, rodents, and conditions that trigger asthma.
  • MRNY fought for the toughest anti-lead law in the US, resulting in a 56% reduction in childhood lead poisoning.
Meet Maria

Maria Angelica Castillo has been a victim of harassment and discrimination since 2008, in her landlord’s attempts to drive her family out of her Brooklyn apartment. She has succeeded in remaining in her home through legal help provided by Make the Road New York. Maria is a leader in MRNY’s tenant committee, BASTA, where she organizes her community to keep families in their homes and resist landlord harassment and exploitation. She is currently enrolled in English language classes at MRNY. Maria was recently featured in a BASTA video.

“Now I can honestly say that we live with more dignity,” Maria says. “But to live with dignity, you always have to fight for it.”

Help us build a safe, affordable, greener city for all New Yorkers.

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