Elizabeth Villareal came to LSLA after being served with an eviction petition and having her water shut off for three weeks. She, her husband, and two daughters were struggling financially as a result of COVID-19; Elizabeth contracted COVID and lost her job as a result. By the time she had recovered, the business had gone under. Elizabeth’s landlord, who was also facing hardships due to the pandemic, shut off the water claiming that he couldn’t afford to pay for any water bills or to keep a tenant who could not pay.

When Elizabeth contacted Lone Star Legal Aid, its Conroe Branch Managing Attorney took immediate action by filing an application with the Court to have Elizabeth’s water immediately turned on. She also filed a motion to stop the eviction, sent a letter to the landlord with Elizabeth’s Declaration, and a demand for a copy of the lease Elizabeth never received. The Court acted swiftly and ordered Elizabeth’s water to be turned on immediately. Elizabeth and her family were overjoyed to have access to water again. However, their troubles didn’t end there.

Elizabeth’s landlord requested a hearing challenging both the issuance of the writ as well as Elizabeth’s CDC declaration. The court ordered the parties to appear in court the very next day even though the formal eviction hearing was not scheduled to take place for another week. Once again, LSLA’s Conroe office staff sprang into action to prepare the defense of the landlord’s challenges and prepared the client for the hearing.

Assistant to the Managing Attorney, Linda Hyatt, worked on coordinating the meeting time with the client and organizing the documents while Attorney Deborah Concepcion prepped the witness and prepared for court late into the evening. The next morning during the hearing, the Court ordered that Elizabeth would not be evicted and that utility services, such as water and electricity, must stay on as long as Elizabeth resided there.

After being informed about the Eviction Diversion Program, both parties were interested in filling out a joint application. Always prepared, Deborah Concepcion provided blank copies of the application for the Eviction Diversion Program to the parties and helped Elizabeth fill out her application while the landlords filled out their own. After the applications were complete, the Landlord and his wife thanked Lone Star Legal Aid for the information about the program and for supporting them, even though they lost the case. The landlords said they felt that Lone Star Legal Aid was a blessing and that the Eviction Diversion Program was exactly the kind of help people needed during the pandemic.

If you or someone you know is in need of help with evictions, Lone Star Legal Aid, in collaboration with Texas RioGrande Legal AidTexas Legal Services Center, and Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, has set up Stop TX Eviction, an online portal that helps tenants understand their rights and provides solutions to keep them housed.

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.