Following 18 years of impact as Community Development Project (CDP) of the Urban Justice Center, TakeRoot Justice launched as an independent organization in July 2019. Below are some highlights from our first two decades.
In 2020 TakeRoot Justice expanded our expertise to address new issues that arose as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including worker safety issues and unemployment benefits. We scheduled regular virtual presentations and trainings for our partners covering unemployment insurance applications, worker safety, COVID-19 related sick leave and vaccine mandates. The Workers’ Rights team also joined the Paid Care Industry coalition convened by the NYC Office of Labor Policy and Standards. Additionally, in 2020 the team secured $2,363,986 in settlements and judgments for unpaid wages and damages.
Housing Justice team supported organizing that led to the adoption of historic rent law reforms that closed landlord-friendly loopholes through which landlords removed apartments from rent stabilization and raised rents.
Equitable Neighborhoods team partners with organizers in Chinatown and the Lower East Side to submit rezoning proposal to transform community vision for the future of the area into law, and successfully sues to stop development that does not fit with that vision.
In collaboration with partners from United for Small Business New York City (USBnyc), the Capacity Building and Equitable Neighborhoods teams help launch the commercial lease assistance program, which was designed to provide legal support for small businesses throughout New York City.
Building on the Research & Policy and Housing teams’ work with partners documenting tenant experiences & challenges in housing court and the work of the Right to Counsel Coalition, the City passed Right to Counsel and Stand for Tenant Safety laws, which provide free lawyers to tenants being sued by their landlords and give tenants unambiguous grounds to take abusive landlords to court.
Immigrants’ Rights team partners with immigrant-led grassroots groups to document experiences of new New Yorkers who were targets of predatory and deceptive practices. Their resulting report recommended stricter regulation of employment industries, leading to a multi-year legislative campaign that culminated with the passage of the New York State Justice for Jobseekers law.
Alongside organizers, Housing and Immigrants’ Rights team pushed the NYC Human Rights Commission to issue first ever U-visa certifications for immigrant tenants facing criminal harassment & threats by their landlords, giving legal force to residents’ experiences as victims of their landlords’ crimes.
Capacity Building team joins the Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative and successfully lobbies for City to financially support the incubation of worker cooperatives by allocating $1.2M per year in public funds.
Housing team represents 350 NYCHA residents on the Lower East Side in a successful suit for repairs. It is the city’s largest single action by tenants suing their landlord in the Civil Landlord Tenant Court, ever.
Housing team helps draft and lobbies for the first NYC Tenant Protection law. The Consumer team partners with organizers from being frozen by unscrupulous debt collectors and to increase oversight of process servers in NYC.
Housing Rights team files several unprecedented strategic lawsuits against hedge-fund backed landlords to highlight that their business plans hinged on displacing NYC tenants.
Consumer Justice team partners with advocates to address the impact of the financial crisis on low income communities, many of whom had been previously targeted for subprime credit cards.
Community Development Project founded as a project of the Urban Justice Center to provide transactional legal services and contract negotiation support for NYC community development corporations.