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William Wayne Justice Center to join the LBJ School of Public Affairs on contract for deed study in Texas colonias

The William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law is joining the LBJ School of Public Affairs to undertake a major study for the Texas Legislature on the use of contracts for deed in Texas colonias. The study will focus on title issues, variations of contracts for deed, and abuses during the sale of property in these communities. It will also examine wider issues of title irregularity as these emerge through informal land sales, subdivision, and intestate inheritance.

The study is led by Dr. Peter M. Ward, C.B. Smith Sr. Centennial Chair in US-Mexico Relations at the LBJ School, with Heather Way, director of the Community Development Clinic, and Lucille Wood, research fellow at the Justice Center, as co-investigators. The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) is funding the project.

Designed in two phases, the research team, including LBJ and UT Law students, will first examine current contract for deed practices in seven border counties—Cameron, El Paso, Hidalgo, Maverick, Starr, Val Verde, and Webb—which account for roughly 70 percent of colonia residents in Texas. In addition, the research team will review contract for deed practices in five Central Texas counties.

In phase two, the team will be joined by law students to participate in fieldwork under the auspices of the Law School’s Pro Bono Program. Working with members of the research team, the students will travel to the border region and interview homeowners in communities selected for further study.  The final report to the TDHCA is due in August 2012.

Related links:

William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law

Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs

UT Law Contact: Helen Gaebler, Senior Research Attorney, William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law, 512-232-5439, hgaebler@law.utexas.edu

LBJ School Contact: Peter M. Ward, PhD, 512-471-6302, peter.ward@mail.utexas.edu

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