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NDS’s Civil Defense Practice represents clients with civil legal needs arising due to police or ACS contact, and defends eviction in Housing Court as assigned counsel under the Right to Counsel program.

Our community services include advice and representation in eviction matters, criminal record-based employment or housing denial or termination, criminal record relief and other general civil matters. If you or someone you know is seeking civil legal assistance, you can visit NDS’s office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 10am and 3pm to meet with a representative, or call our intake line at 929-251-3307 on Mondays between 12pm and 6pm.

The uniqueness of the practice, where attorneys, advocates and social workers collaborate on client representation, ensures comprehensive solutions to our clients’ needs. This innovative approach mitigates these consequences and can altogether prevent the destabilizing effects of family separation due to deportation or loss of housing and employment.


NDS’s Housing Defense Team, part of the Civil Defense Practice, is part of the pioneering movement toward a civil Gideon guaranteeing the right to counsel to any tenant facing eviction. Premised on the conviction that combatting gentrification begins with preserving existing affordable housing, the Housing Defense Team advocates on behalf of tenants to safeguard the right to secure, stable housing and to combat the destabilization and disintegration of the Northern Manhattan community .

The Housing Defense Team provides representation in a wide range of Housing Court proceedings. We specialize in combatting displacement through nonpayment and holdover proceedings –the primary vehicles of displacement. In addition we secure restoration for tenants who have been illegally locked out, demand safe, sanitary, and dignified conditions through actions for repairs, challenge rent overcharges and illegal rent setting, and combat landlord harassment. We additionally provide our clients with support in obtaining crucial public benefits and other forms of rental assistance to maintain their housing. As part of NDS’s holistic model, our clients have the benefit of representation by an interdisciplinary team of attorneys, advocates, and social workers working together to fight housing insecurity and help maintain the fabric of the Northern Manhattan community.  

The Housing Defense Team provides assigned counsel services through the Housing Court, but additionally provides advice and representation to members of the Northern Manhattan community seeking assistance through community intake. If you are in need of assistance, please contact our civil intake line at (929) 251-3307. 

Collateral Consequences

The Collateral Consequences Team, part of the Civil Defense Practice, represents clients facing the devastating civil consequences of contact with the criminal legal and child welfare systems.  

The American Bar Association estimates that roughly 45,000 collateral consequences of a criminal conviction exist across the United States. However, collateral consequences are not limited to instances of criminal conviction; a simple accusation within the criminal legal or child welfare system can trigger eviction proceedings, the loss or suspension of an employment license, school suspension, property seizure, benefits termination and more destabilizing effects. Often, these consequences linger long after someone leaves the criminal or family courthouse. The Collateral Consequences Team works to prevent and mitigate these extrinsic punishments and ensure our clients maintain stability not only throughout the course of their criminal and family proceedings, but also after their case concludes.

The Collateral Consequences Team represents clients of NDS’s Criminal Defense and Family Defense Practice with civil legal needs through NDS’s internal, team-based referral structure. The Collateral Consequences Team also advice and representation to members of the Northern Manhattan community seeking assistance through community intake. If you are in need of assistance, please contact our civil intake line at (929) 251-3307.