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Free legal housing help available for Flushing residents

By Madina Toure

City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and Queens Legal Services launched a partnership to provide free monthly legal housing assistance to Flushing residents.

Starting Friday and following on the first Friday of every month, Queens Legal Services will have an attorney at Koo’s office to help constituents with housing issues including tenant/landlord disputes, harassment, rent stabilization and evictions. Consultations with the QLS attorney must be made by appointment by calling Koo’s office at (718) 888-8747.

Attorneys fluent in Korean, Chinese, Spanish and other languages will be onsite. An immediate telephone interpretation service is also available for any other languages not covered.

During a news conference at his office, Koo said tenant and landlord disputes and harassment are common complaints his office receives but that over the past several months there has been a spike in the number of housing-related complaints.

Issues include landlords harassing tenants, taking a long time to make repairs or not making repairs at all, and not cashing tenants’ rent checks.

“There are many tricks landlords can use to evict tenants and many tricks tenants can use to take advantage of the landlords, too,” Koo said. “Property values in Flushing are rapidly increasing and development is on the rise. Flushing also has a high number of rent-stabilized buildings, about 450 buildings, so it’s important that the tenants know their rights.”

Jennifer Ching, QLS’ director, said New Yorkers struggle with escalating housing costs on a daily basis.

“What we have been seeing in northern Queens, and in particular in the Flushing community, is a rapid rate of gentrification and displacement of low-income, longtime tenants and residents from all backgrounds,” Ching said.

She encouraged people to reach out to Koo’s office about any critical civil or legal needs.

“We don’t mean to limit the topics by which people can come see us, but we agree with the Council member that the housing issues in particular here in Flushing right now are so particularly acute that they warrant a separate clinic,” she said.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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