Eric Rabago, St. Mary’s University School of Law, First Year Student
For spring break, I volunteered my time at SALSA to do pro bono work as a 1L law student. During my week at SALSA, I had the opportunity to spend time at Justice of the Peace Precinct 1, Place 1 and spend time at the Haven for Hope Resource Center.
On Tuesday and Thursday, I was on location at JP1. On Thursday, I was able to sit with my fellow clerks and watch eviction court proceedings. Watching the various cases was an eye-opening experience because I was able to see what problems citizens of San Antonio are having that led them to face eviction. The most common issue I witnessed was eviction due to nonpayment of rent. Once a tenant receives judgment against them, they may not know what do to next, which is why SALSA is there to help if a tenant needs assistance to understand their options. I was able to shadow Attorney Kristen Adams to see how SALSA advises tenants about the eviction appeals process and learned the proper procedures to follow to file a successful eviction appeal. SALSA provides tenants with an eviction appeal packet that contains valuable information and documentation that they need for the appeals process. SALSA then walks through the packet with the tenant so that the tenant understands the process and what information they need to provide. If the tenant decides to appeal, SALSA makes the tenant very aware of what options they have regarding the next steps of the process.
On Wednesday, I spent time at the Haven for Hope Resource Center for SALSA’s walk-in clinic. During my time at the Haven for Hope Resource Center clinic, I was able to sit in and observe a tenant receiving assistance about a small claims lawsuit they had filed against their landlord for failing to repair an issue that had affected their health and safety, and saw how important the landlord and tenant relationship is and that property laws in Texas tend to favor landlords.
During my experience at SALSA, I saw how overwhelmed a tenant can get when going through the eviction process. Many tenants do not know the legal process and I understand how scary being in that situation can be. I saw firsthand how important SALSA is as a resource for tenants so that they are able to better navigate their legal issues and understand what rights they have as a tenant. A tenant becomes aware they are not powerless, and they do have rights. I enjoyed my time at SALSA because I was able to get experience with eviction issues as well as interact with tenants and let them know what options they have regarding their next steps if they decide to pursue an appeal.