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South Texas Law Receives $1M-plus TAJF Grant to Help People Deal with Debt Issues

Home Law School News South Texas Law Receives $1M-plus TAJF Grant to Help People Deal with Debt Issues

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF) recently awarded the South Texas College of Law Houston clinical programs a generous Moonshot Grant to provide pro bono legal services to individuals dealing with debt challenges.

The grant will allow South Texas Law’s Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics to offer pro bono legal services to low-income individuals dealing with debt issues including bankruptcy, mediation for debt settlement, handling zombie (past statute of limitations or no legal claim) or fraudulent debt, overcoming abusive or coercive debt collectors, and resolving IRS disputes.

The TAJF grant also includes funds for outreach to ensure the intended clients know about the opportunity to receive assistance. TAJF anticipates the law school creating a program of support that can be replicated statewide. The legal clinics at South Texas Law use an experiential learning model where law students work directly with clients, supervised closely by a licensed attorney who teaches their clinical course about a focused area of law.

“We are grateful for this generous support from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation to help individuals deal with debt — which has a major impact on underserved families across Greater Houston — and we hope to develop a model that can help all Texans facing debtor rights challenges,” said Vice President and Associate Dean for Experiential Education Catherine Green Burnett.

Debt causes difficulties for low-income families who often struggle to meet basic needs. For example, an Urban Institute research study reported that in 2023, many families relied on credit cards and on savings to buy groceries — then often struggled to pay off the debt incurred. Families already facing food hardship were most likely to take on debt to pay for groceries, which left them less able to meet their basic needs in the future.

TAJF notes that Moonshot grants are one-time grants awarded from the increase in IOLTA funds generated by higher interest rates. The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF) is the leading funder of civil legal aid to the poor in Texas. Created in 1984 by the Supreme Court of Texas, TAJF support for civil legal aid benefits hundreds of thousands of low-income Texans, including victims of crime, abused and neglected children, veterans, the elderly, and the homeless.

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