Stop Punishing Crime Victims

Target: Bill de Blasio, New York City Mayor

Goal: Demand an end to nuisance laws that hurt domestic abuse victims in New York City.

New York City has enacted nuisance ordinances, which were originally designed to protect neighborhoods from drug and weapon-related crimes. Unfortunately, these nuisance ordinances are creating a dilemma for female victims of domestic violence to choose between allowing the abuser in their house, or losing their homes. In New York City, the ordinance states that if members of the household or neighbors call 911 to report an incident three times within four months, the landlord is required to evict the tenants causing legal problems. What this ordinance does not take into account is that the incidents for which the police are called are not always drug and weapon related, but often authorities are summoned to protect victims of domestic violence.

Harvard University sociologist Matthew Desmond and Nicol Valdez of Colombia University found in a recent study that nearly one-third of all 911 calls involved domestic violence. With nuisance ordinances, it is the victims of this domestic abuse who are being evicted, and not only are they losing their homes, but they are also incurring a record of evictions which prevent them from finding suitable housing in the future. Take into consideration Lakisha Briggs, who was stabbed in the neck by her abusive boyfriend who had just returned from jail. Fear of eviction led Ms. Briggs to beg her neighbor not to call the police, even as she was bleeding enough to lose consciousness. She woke up in the hospital with a notice to evict within 10 days because her neighbor chose to ignore her request.

Victims of domestic violence should not be required to choose between their safety or their housing. Furthermore, it should not be the responsibility of landlords to evict rent-paying tenants due to the quantity of police activity in or near their homes. Law enforcement, incident reporting, and crime monitoring should be the responsibility of the police. We should not be threatening landlords with the loss of their licenses in the case that they do not evict in compliance with nuisance ordinances.

By signing the petition below, you will help urge the Mayor of New York City to put an end to nuisance ordinances that punish victims of domestic abuse and other crimes for calling the police.


Dear Mayor de Blasio,

Nuisance ordinances in New York City are designed to protect neighborhoods from drugs and weapons, however, it is creating a larger victimhood among victims of domestic abuse. According to nuisance laws, landlords are required to evict tenants who have called or had a neighbor call 911 to report an incident three times in four months. Not only does this place legal pressure on landlords, who can lose their licenses if they do not comply, but it is also forcing victims of domestic violence to chose between their safety and their home.

One-third of emergency calls are related to domestic violence. This means that nuisance ordinances, regardless as to whether they are effective in reducing weapons and drug-related incidences, are targeting tenants who are victims of domestic abuse. In November alone, there were nearly 60,000 homeless people sleeping in the municipal shelter system. Nuisance ordinances conflict with any and all attempts to decrease that number.

I am urging you to put an end to the nuisance ordinances that allow landlords to evict tenants for calling the police. Please take actions to enforce policies that protect victims of domestic violence and other crimes instead of punishing them for seeking help from the authorities.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Daniela Brown

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  1. Wendy Morrison says:

    NO victim if domestic abuse should be victimized twice by a BAD justice system anywhere.

  2. Please under all circumstances give credible references, especially for the numbers you use (e.g., “One-third of emergency calls are related to domestic violence.”).

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