Legal Aid Society’s new attorney-in-charge of citywide housing justice practice has roots in Queens

Legal Aid Society
The Legal Aid Society names Munonyedi Clifford as the new attorney-in-charge of its citywide housing justice practice, following her time at Queens Legal Services. (Courtesy of The Legal Aid Society)

As New Yorkers face unprecedented challenges related to housing, The Legal Aid Society announced Munonyedi “Mun” Clifford as attorney-in-charge of its Citywide Housing Justice Practice. In her new role, Clifford will supervise, train and mentor a team of directors, supervising attorneys and other staff working on housing matters throughout New York City to ensure a high standard of representation and client services.

“I am so proud to lead this wonderful team of housing practitioners who are in the trenches fighting every day to ensure that our clients get a meaningful right to counsel in housing court,” Clifford said. “The fight for housing and racial justice has never been more important, and I look forward to building on Legal Aid’s efforts to secure our clients, low-income tenants from communities of color, the outcomes they deserve.”

Clifford credits her two-year tenure as Deputy Director of the Right to Counsel Program at Queens Legal Services for helping her prepare for her new citywide role.

“I would say yeah, certainly my experience practicing in Queens prepared me for the position I’m currently in because it gave me a different perspective of the housing practice from what it’s like for Queens tenants and Queens practitioners versus what I had experienced with the housing practice was like for Manhattan tenants and practitioners,” Clifford told QNS. “For instance, the housing stock in Queens is so different. There are way fewer rent-regulated apartments in Queens than there are, for instance, in Brooklyn and Manhattan. There are more single-family homes, smaller properties and things like that.”

Clifford has an additional link to the borough. After she migrated from Nigeria with her family and grew up in a modest apartment in Brooklyn where she observed the harmful effects of gentrification firsthand.

“So I grew up in Brooklyn, but I went to high school in Queens at Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood,” Clifford proudly said. Years later, her decision to attend law school was galvanized by the foreclosure of her family home.

Professionally, Clifford started out as a staff attorney at The Harlem Community Law Office in 2011 before moving on to Queens Legal Services. Throughout her roles, Clifford said she has witnessed the effects of greed, gentrification and predatory practices on low-income communities of color which has served to strengthen her commitment to the fight for racial and housing justice.

“Munonyedi’s ability to lead attorneys with dynamic case strategies and ongoing support is widely recognized throughout Legal Aid,” said Adriene Holder, chief attorney of the Civil Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “Mun is both a seasoned manager and attorney, who will help ensure that staff has the means to protect our clients from eviction and landlord harassment. The Legal Aid Society welcomes Mun to this new role, where her contributions will continue to benefit the organization writ large and the vulnerable communities we serve.”

More from Around New York