Christopher Helwig

  • Hosted by Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
  • Sponsored by Morgan Stanley, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school Columbia Law School
  • Issue area Housing/Homelessness
  • Fellowship class year 2017
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Chris improved the lives of low-income elderly, disabled, and chronically ill tenants living in East Harlem public housing by fighting for their right to live in safe and habitable apartments.

The East Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan is a thriving and diverse neighborhood. It also has the second-highest concentration of public housing in the country. For the tens-of-thousands of East Harlem public housing residents, leaks, mold, and flooding are widespread and persistent problems. But for tenants who are elderly, chronically ill, or who have disabilities, the conditions in their homes can often cause or exacerbate serious health conditions. Unfortunately, even as New York devotes more resources towards eviction defense, the overwhelming majority of East Harlem public housing tenants go without an attorney as they seek repairs to their homes.

Fellowships Highlights

Chris provided full representation to 148 tenants to prevent eviction and help them secure repairs to their homes. He also advised or assisted 224 additional NYCHA tenants in a wide range of issues. He founded the Attorney for the Day program at the East Harlem Community Justice Center, more than doubling the number of East Harlem public housing tenants who appear in that courthouse with an attorney and secured funding to allow that program to operate well into the future. He established a quarterly rent calculation clinic staffed by volunteer attorneys that has helped more than three-dozen tenants to their rents adjusted. He presented at 34 community events doing know-your-rights trainings for over 400 tenants.

What’s Next

Chris will continue the work of his fellowship at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House as a housing attorney until the end of 2019. Beginning in 2020, he will be clerking for the Honorable William F. Kuntz of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York before hopefully returning to housing work.


NYCHA cleans up sewage in basement after residents threatened lawsuit

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