Rural TX – Lone Star Legal Aid was awarded a new grant from Texas Access to Justice Foundation to serve struggling Texans in rural communities. LSLA serves 47 designated rural counties and the remaining 25 counties are designated urban with rural areas. Many communities are long distances from LSLA offices, and they suffer from isolation, extreme poverty levels, no public transportation, and a lack of social service networks. This grant will allow LSLA to hire staff to meet this need.

According to a 2017 Legal Services Corporation report, 75% of rural households had at least one civil legal problem in the prior 12 months. Despite this, rural residents only seek professional help for 22% of their legal problems, often trying to handle them on their own, unsure if the problem is legal, or unaware of available legal services. When they do seek help, more than 50% of their legal problems are not served or only partially served by legal aid due to a lack of resources.

The rural staff will cover the broad practice areas of housing, health, education, and employment. Under the umbrella of these four areas, project staff will help clients with legal issues, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Eviction defense, utility cut-offs, and lock-outs, return of security deposits;
  • Public housing terminations and preservation of subsidized housing vouchers;
  • Habitability standards;
  • Obtaining Social Security benefits; appealing Social Security disability denials and terminations;
  • Appealing Social Security alleged overpayments;
  • Making wage claims;
  • Appealing unemployment claim decisions;
  • Sealing, expunging, or correcting juvenile justice or criminal justice records;
  • Barriers to occupational licenses;
  • Driver’s license reinstatement;
  • Inaccurate background checks;
  • Credit report repair;
  • Justice system history job discrimination;
  • Special education services;
  • School discipline; and
  • Getting, keeping, or reinstating health benefits such as Medicare, Medicaid, and county healthcare.

The project will cover our 47 designated rural counties: Austin, Bosque, Burleson, Camp, Cass, Chambers, Colorado, Delta, Falls, Fayette, Franklin, Freestone, Grimes, Hamilton, Hill, Hopkins, Houston, Jasper, Lamar, Lampasas, Lee, Leon, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Matagorda, Milam, Morris, Navarro, Newton, Panola, Polk, Rains, Red River, Robertson, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Titus, Trinity, Tyler, Upshur, Waller, Washington, Wharton, and Wood.

The project will also cover the rural areas of 24 of our 25 designated urban counties (Harris County is covered under the other four substantive applications): Anderson, Angelina, Bell, Bowie, Brazoria, Brazos, Cherokee, Coryell, Fort Bend, Galveston, Gregg, Hardin, Harris, Harrison, Henderson, Jefferson, Liberty, McLennan, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Orange, Rusk, Smith, Van Zandt, and Walker.

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at http://www.lonestarlegal.org.

Media contact: Clarissa Ayala, cayala@lonestarlegal.org.