Law School News

South Texas College of Law Houston Recognized for its Efforts in Fighting for Housing Rights

The Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation presented South Texas College of Law Houston, along with the other partners in the Keep Harris County Housed coalition, a Fighting for Our Neighbors award during the April 23 Working Family Awards Celebration.

Eric Kwartler, public interest attorney with STCL Houston’s Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics represented the law school at the dinner. In 2018, Kwartler created STCL Houston’s Landlord/Tenant practice.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation for our participation in the Keep Harris Housed coalition,” Kwartler said. “But the greater honor was the opportunity to unite with such diverse community stakeholders to help keep thousands of vulnerable Harris County residents in their homes during an unprecedented crisis. We look forward to our continued work with the Keep Harris Housed coalition to promote housing stability and prevent eviction in Harris County.”

During the pandemic, STCL Houston’s Landlord/Tenant practice has helped over 5,000 people

facing housing instability through a combination of community outreach and courtroom advocacy. Kwartler has personally represented over 370 households in court and has helped secure over $500,000 in grant money to expand the program. When the CDC promulgated its eviction moratorium, he created a drive-thru clinic program to help people fill out the required declarations. Those clinics eventually grew to include help with applying for rental assistance.

While STCL Houston started the drive-thru clinics, Kwartler explained that Jay Malone, political director for the Texas Gulf Coast, was the driving force behind the expansion of those efforts.

Starting in April 2021, the Keep Harris County Housed coalition began meeting weekly to plan mass applications events to help connect vulnerable tenants with rental assistance and legal aid. These events were coordinated among more than 50 partner organizations, including STCL Houston, the unions, community groups, legal aid providers, churches and government allies.

Between April and November, the coalition hosted 21 mass application events, helping more than 7,000 area residents in total.