HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – Local officials and community leaders held several drive-thru legal clinics on Saturday afternoon.
“The number one thing that people get satisfaction from in life is a roof over their head,” said Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis.
Volunteer attorneys helped determine if renters qualified for protection under the CDC moratorium guidelines. They also helped those who qualify complete and sign the required declaration on the spot.
For people like Aurelia Andrade, the event was something she needed.
“It’s been horrible because we are living under 1 income and I can’t get a job because of COVID, they are not hiring,” she said.
Andrade said the past year has not been easy for her family.
“And we’ve been paying our rent because the last thing we want to be is under a bridge,” she said.
But many experts like Eric Kwartler were there to help.
“Even if I can just keep one person in their home, that’s been a day for me,” he said.
Eric Kwartler, an Attorney and Professor at South Texas College of Law Houston, said a lot of renters do not know their rights.
“One big thing that people need to understand is you may get a notice to vacate from your landlord, stay in your home because you do have rights,” Kwartler said.
Kwartler said if you can, continue to pay rent even if your landlord still has not fixed problems within your home.
“That’s now how it works you have to keep paying your rent or else your ability to enforce your rights and get those repairs made will go away,” he said.
Volunteers also helped tenants apply for rental assistance through two new state and local government programs.
People like Andrade said they are grateful for the legal aid.
“Today I learned we don’t even have to do that because there are laws out there that protect us from being evicted,” she said.
Here are other ways to get help with rental assistance: