Houston, TX – Lone Star Legal Aid is working with a coalition of eviction defenders in partnership with Harris County and the City of Houston to offer a pilot program, the Eviction Right to Counsel Project, in certain jurisdictions – on a small scale. The coalition is comprised of Lone Star Legal Aid, Houston Volunteer Lawyers, South Texas College of Law, Thurgood Marshall School of Law’s Earl Car Institute, and the University of Houston Law Center.

The concept of the program came to fruition after the pandemic pushed Houston and the rest of America into an eviction crisis. The Eviction Right to Counsel Project (ER2C) is similar to a public defender’s office. Any applicant who is eligible under LSLA’s guidelines would receive full representation in eviction court. The ER2C’s mission is to provide an attorney to every tenant, who will represent them in eviction court, rather than merely providing forms or self-help resources. Another goal is to provide representation to undocumented tenants.

There has always been a need for an ER2C and the pandemic has exacerbated the need. New York City was among the first to pass an Eviction Right to Counsel Program, and according to an article by Community Service Society of NY, “There is consensus among legal scholars and academics that access to an attorney reduces evictions and increases housing stability. Among the approximately 22,000 New Yorkers represented by OCJ-funded attorneys in FY 2018, 84 percent were able to remain in their homes.” In addition to New York, other cities around the country have Eviction Right to Counsel Projects, and 80-90% of those cases result in a favorable outcome for the tenant. The coalition’s very long term goal is to be able to positively impact tenants’ lives in Texas.

Tenants facing eviction can apply for free legal help by calling 1-800-733-8394 or by visiting our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.

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