The City Council is weighing legislation that would pay lawyers to represent indigent men, women and children threatened with eviction in housing court. It's about time.
Even those only concerned with the cost of the project and not the attendant moral issues ought to know that the new law could very well save the city and state money.
But the major flaw with housing court is that it exists. It is a forum where society treats hapless tenants like criminals, and that won't change if the City Council's bill becomes law. Rent disputes should be removed altogether from the court system.
However, the problems confronting individuals trapped in housing court surpass their judicial travails. As matters now stand, housing court is just one shameful element in a grotesque and devious phenomenon that I call “Welfare World.”
If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself in housing court - as I was - you will probably also have to endure the rest of Welfare World: the city's Human Resources Administration and the many social service organizations that are supposed to help the impoverished, a rather sinister, albeit bungling network.
I don't have the space to discuss in detail my own experiences in Welfare World, except to observe that the agencies that wielded control over me ran the gamut from the incompetent and useless to the incompetent, useless and pernicious.
Taxpayer money and charitable donations are being squandered on the current system. What is desperately needed is a new approach to those facing eviction and poverty, an approach that will ensure that trained, skilled professionals thoroughly overhaul Welfare World and help people navigate it, something that doesn't happen now).
Right now, Welfare World rewards certain organizations that exploit it and bewilders and abuses the poor people it's supposed to help.