In Housing Court, Tenant Is Evicted Again
Good morning. Today is Tuesday. Today we’ll look at another sign that New York City is returning to its pre-pandemic routine: Housing courts are hearing evictions once again. We will also look at book publishing and its role in the city’s economy.
The wheels of justice may be spinning slowly, as the often-quoted line says, but they’re making a comeback in the housing courts in New York City.
The city’s housing courts have handled more evictions than similar courts in other cities. The pandemic changed everything: New York State imposed a ban on evictions. Lawmakers extended it several times, long after other state and federal eviction protections ended.
The New York moratorium finally expired in mid-January, and tenants have been evicted in more than 500 cases since February, according to city data. My colleague Mihir Zaveri says that’s double the previous 20 months combined, from mid-2020, when coronavirus cases in New York were dwindling after a devastating first wave.
[After a Two-Year Dip, Evictions Accelerate in New York]
The number of deportations remains below pre-pandemic levels. But after the pandemic pushed thousands of people to the brink of losing their homes, the surge is raising questions about how the housing system can cope with a broader crisis of order – and not just because rents are rising again. Tenant advocates say a key new protection, a free attorney for any low-income tenant summoned to housing court, has reached a breaking point.
Several nonprofits tapped by the city to represent tenants are dealing with staffing shortages and say they are unable to meet demand. Legal Services NYC has struggled to hire new attorneys to fill vacancies caused by resignations in a tight job market. Raun J. Rasmussen, the group’s chief executive officer, said: “We’re doing our best to attract every May law graduate who is out of work.
Legal Services and the Legal Aid Association, another nonprofit, have called on courts to slow down the scheduling and speed at which cases are handled through the system. But Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the court, said last week that the slowdown would “get nothing out of it”, because new cases would continue to pile up.
It was a cloudy day with temperatures nearing the low 60s. There will be patchy rain and fog late into the night, when temperatures will drop to their lowest point in the 50s.
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Suspended today and tomorrow (Eid al-Fitr).
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New York, the capital of the book business
Book publishing is a business in New York. All of the largest publishers are based here, along with many smaller ones – a total of 224, according to Labor Department data cited by James Parrott of the Center for City Affairs New York’s New School.
About 32,000 people work in publishing in New York City, according to data from the Labor Department — a fraction of that work in finance or technology. Some in the industry have moved away during the pandemic, but most editors and agents are still here.
How important is publishing to the city’s economy? Parrott told me via email that “as an industry, book publishing means a lot more to the NYC economy than how many people it directly employs or what their gross wages are.” much”. He also said that book publishing “cannot be separated from the city’s status as an international cultural capital and the enormous activity associated with that.”
Therefore, New York City is still the place that sells the most books. But once books are written, edited, printed, and bound, they must be sold. I asked my colleague Elizabeth A. Harris about a bookseller who is uniquely positioned in the publishing ecosystem but has closed several stores in New York City over the past decade – Barnes & Noble.
Barnes & Noble was once the villain for publishers, but now the publishing industry seems to be on its side. What happened?
Barnes & Noble was once known for pressuring publishers for more favorable terms and was seen by many as an existential threat to independent bookstores. But right now, Amazon is the most dominant company in book sales — it sells more than half of all printed books in the United States. That doesn’t include ebooks and audiobooks, which Amazon dominates.
So Barnes & Noble’s position in the business changed. Today, it is seen by independent stores as a factor that helps keep publishers invested in distributing printed books to stores around the country. Publishers see their 600 stores as an important way to present real books to customers.
When readers shop online, they tend to buy what they are looking for. But when they’re in a bookstore, they might walk in looking for a novel and also two or three other titles that they haven’t planned to buy yet. That kind of accidental discovery is hugely important to publishers.
[How Barnes & Noble Went From Villain to Hero]
Barnes & Noble book sales grew 14% last year. How did Barnes & Noble do that? Has the company changed the way it decides what books to sell?
Part of this is that Barnes & Noble has tried to be knowledgeable about the books they stock and advertise in their stores.
For example, it has been paying close attention to popular books on TikTok, which has become a significant force in book sales. Viral clips of readers crying over their favorite books can sell tons of copies! That actually put a lot of books on bestseller lists, including books that came out years ago, which is unusual.
You wrote that Barnes & Noble stopped charging publishers to put books where they could see them, like the cash register or the door where you walked in. How did that happen?
Sounds like it’s free money, right? Collect a large fee and put a few books in the window. But it really meant that the books people weren’t interested in reading were right in front of their eyes, while the books they actually wanted were harder to find.
Now, the Barnes & Noble store managers have decided for themselves where they want to put the books, and it looks like things are going well.
Although book sales increased 14 percent, overall sales increased only 3 percent. What else is found in total? In other words, what pulled these numbers down last year, and is Barnes & Noble moving to cut unprofitable divisions?
A lot of this is pulled by Covid. Their coffee shop business declined a lot. Omicron rolls out just as the all-important holiday shopping season heats up. And most of their stores don’t have an event for almost two years – author readings and book signings can sell a lot of copies.
As the country continues to open up, those are expected to improve.
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METROPOLITAN . Diary
Warm up at last
When the weather finally warms up, I don my spring version of my uniform: a black t-shirt, wide-leg black jeans, beige sneakers, and tortoiseshell glasses. My hair is tucked behind my ears and a canvas tote bag is slung over my shoulder.
I was on my way to buy Thai food with a friend when I looked across Willoughby Street towards Flatbush Avenue and saw him: loose black jeans, black t-shirt, beige sneakers, tortoiseshell glasses, hair tied up behind the ears and an overflowing canvas jacket.
He looks like he’s about to go somewhere important, maybe the airport.
He pointed at me.
I pointed back.
We both burst out laughing and went our separate ways.
– Keighly Baron
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and Read more Metropolitan Diary here.