(The New York Times) At New York City Housing Court, on the second floor of a dingy office building in Lower Manhattan, a woman sits quietly with a shawl pulled around her shoulders, looking up names on an old government computer and copying them into a sleek mini-laptop at her side. Behind her, tenants shift anxiously on their feet, clutching paperwork and waiting to speak with one of a handful of clerks sitting behind a glass partition.
The woman, who gives her name only as Carolyn out of fear of losing her job, sits at one of the three public-access computers in the room eight hours a day, five days a week. She is searching an online database for the names of tenants with cases before the court. The information she turns up will soon be compiled in a document and sold to landlords, who will use it as a kind of blacklist designed to prevent supposedly litigious or financially irresponsible tenants from renting apartments.