Order in the court!
The city has put a timeline and price-tag on the relocation of its widely hated housing court on Livingston Street to Downtown’s more stately Municipal Building — but tenant advocates say they want to see more details before declaring it an “upgrade” on the current crowded 18-story office building.
“Our expectations aren’t super-high yet — we haven’t heard a final date or seen final floor plans,” said Jenny Laurie, the assistant director of Housing Court Answers, which provides people with free legal help. “Once we get all of that we’ll have more to say, but right now it’s just a plan.”
The mayor recently allocated $39.1 million over 10 years for the relocation and renovations, which should be up and running by 2020, according to Department of Citywide Administrative Services spokeswoman Cathy Hanson.
Several city offices will need to be relocated from the Municipal Building before construction on the new housing court gets underway. The Department of Finance will move its operation nearby to 345 Adams St. — where the city is shelling out another $94.5 million for renovations — by the end of this year, followed by the Police Department, Office of Housing Preservation and Development, and Department of Buildings.
Honchos have yet to release details on what the new court will look like, but Laurie says her organization and advocacy groups have met with the city and architects to let them know what they’d like to see.
She hopes that there will be more space for advocacy groups and legal services to lend a helping hand and also says the new building must have working elevators so tenants aren’t stuck waiting anxiously on the ground floor when trying to get to the courtroom, as they currently are.
Another advocate is dreaming of more places for tenants and their families to sit, accommodations for kids so they don’t have to go into the courtrooms, good lighting, and proper ventilation so people don’t have to breathe in the same germ-infested air.
“There hasn’t been a time that I’ve been to housing court that I haven’t come back with a cold,” said Shayla Austin, the tenant organizer of community advocacy group Impacct Brooklyn.