Students in the Housing Clinic represent low income families on their housing- related legal problems. The primary focus of the work is helping clients (1) avoid homelessness and (2) access affordable housing. Thus, a good deal of the work requires representation of clients in threatened evictions and in denials of public housing, subsidized housing and Section 8 housing. But, the work can require representation in all aspects of landlord-tenant law.
In addition, some opportunity exists for real estate related work for individuals and with community-based nonprofit groups. In the past, students have drafted deeds, earnest money contracts, affidavits of heirship and leases.
Most of the cases will start and finish during the semester. Thus, the student will see the case from beginning to end.
Students are responsible for interviewing clients, investigating their cases, researching legal issues, negotiating with opposing parties, drafting pleadings and discovery in eviction cases, and representing clients at administrative hearings and in court. Although a good deal of the work has a litigation bent (e.g., negotiation, drafting pleadings and discovery), actual court representation has been limited in past clinic classes with students successfully settling their cases. (Four federal court lawsuits have been filed by Clinic students during the past three years, with the students having time during the semester to draft the complaint and the discovery.)
The work is challenging, important and rewarding. Many of the clients are single parents fighting desperately to keep their children in a stable, affordable housing environment. Many of the clients are disabled, either physically or mentally. Representation of the mentally disabled presents especially challenging and unique problems.
The Clinic class meets once a week for two hours at the Legal Aid offices. Students are also required to work six hours a week at Legal Aid on their cases. Students can choose to work any hours between 8:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday in the manner that best suits their schedule so long as they are at Legal Aid on at least two different days during the week.
The class component will focus on standards of high quality representation, Texas landlord-tenant laws, eviction defenses, the Fair Housing Act and federal housing programs. A syllabus from last year's Clinic may be obtained by calling Fred Fuchs at 447-7707, ext. 311, and clearly leaving your name and mailing address or by sending him an e-mail request at: email@example.com
Enrollment is by application only. Students must have completed 43 hours before enrolling. Grading is on a pass/fail basis for this four credit hour clinic.