Brooklyn Eviction Defense Projects

Brooklyn Eviction Defense is a mutual aid organization focused on keeping tenants from losing their housing. It helps fight illegal evictions and connects at-risk tenants with legal, logistical and material support. In 2020, I developed two major tools to help the organization achieve its goals.

BED Eviction Hotline: (917) 982-2265

Using the Twilio API, I built a bespoke hotline to contact the BED intake team.

Features:

  • English and Spanish compatability
  • Accepts input in both voice and SMS
  • New calls automatically populate a Google sheet monitored by the BED intake team

I also built an emergency response functionality, which connected callers with a previously selected group of volunteers, but we are yet to implement it.

Housing Motion Part Scraper

Brooklyn was already in a housing crisis before COVID-19, but the pandemic introduced new challenges by shutting down housing courts for several months. Even after the courts re-opened, cases needed to be reviewed to update circumstances for anything that changed in the interim. Brooklyn’s Kings County Court created a new court part called the Housing Motion Part (HMP) for this purpose.

However, the Housing Motion Part’s administration left much to be desired, and tenants were often unaware of the new court dates. Missed dates would be rescheduled, but, anecdotally, anyone who missed three court appearances would lose their case and potentially face eviction.

The BED legal team made it a point to identify and contact defendants who missed HMP cases. Court records are public, but the web portal design and data architecture made this task difficult and tedious.

So, I built an app which scrapes the Kings County Court records and automatically collects the relevant information in a SQL database. By hand, it could take as much as an hour to figure out the status of a case. The app can parse a month of cases in roughly 30 minutes.

Outside of Kings County/Brooklyn, at least three other organizations are using the app for similar purposes across New York State.

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