The conversation between Desmond and U.S. Senator Booker will be moderated by leading educator and housing advocate Prof. Paula Franzese, Peter W. Rodino Professor of Law at Seton Hall Law School.
Their discussion and responses to questions will be followed by a conversation joined by Arnold Cohen, Sr. Policy Coordinator for the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ and Felipe Chavana of the Essex-Newark Legal Services (ENLS).
Professor Paula Franzese, the Peter W. Rodino Professor of Law, is one of the country’s leading experts in property law as well as government ethics. The author of numerous publications, Prof. Franzese’s scholarship in the area of housing law includes critical examination of landlord tenant law, common interest communities, homeowners associations and the dilemma of privatization, the law of servitudes, exclusionary zoning, affordable housing, adverse possession doctrine and takings law.
Her most recent empirical and scholarly study of the plight of low-income tenants living in substandard housing become the basis for significant reform efforts. She joined in the submission to the U.S. Supreme Court of an amicus brief in the Kelo case, and has written and presented on takings law reform.
Prof. Franzese has spearheaded ethics reform initiatives on behalf of three governors, serving as Special Ethics Counsel to Governor Richard J. Codey, Chair of the State Ethics Commission, Vice-Chair of the Election Law Enforcement Commission, Vice-Chair of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Special Committee on Attorney Ethics and Admissions and as ethics advisor to state and local governments across the country, including Mayor Cory Booker’s administration in Newark. Professor Franzese is Chair of the State Commission on Professionalism.
Felipe Chavana has been the Executive Director of Essex-Newark Legal Services (ENLS) since 1989. ENLS’ mission is to provide effective quality legal assistance to low income residents on the most critical civil law issues they face. Chavana will bring to the panel discussion his depth of knowledge on the subject of eviction as well as perspective on changes necessary to achieve a level playing field and ensure that only warranted evictions take place.
In 2016, ENLS aided more than 4,000 households. But the need for legal assistance on civil law matters in Essex County is so enormous and urgent that thousands of other individuals and families facing critical needs went unserved.
Over 40,000 eviction actions are filed in Essex County each year and these evictions result in the displacement of tens of thousands of persons. Each weekday morning the calendar call in the tenancy court in Essex includes between 200 and 300 hundred cases scheduled to be tried that day.
On any given morning, all of the tenants facing the eviction may be people of color who are facing the court without the assistance of counsel. Most tenants facing eviction are residents of Newark, East Orange, Orange or Irvington. Those communities bear the brunt of Essex County’s enormous eviction problem.
Eviction for the elderly poor resulting in homelessness can be tantamount to a death sentence.