As rent relief programs created to assist during the pandemic wind down, the need for legal assistance regarding housing issues has risen dramatically due to the increased risk of displacement, eviction, and homelessness. To combat these issues, SALSA has collaborated with St. Mary’s Law Consumer Protection Clinic, headed by St. Mary’s Clinical Professor of Law Genevieve Hébert Fajardo, which operates a housing hotline for community members in need of legal assistance.
Since the hotline is primarily manned by law students during the school semesters, breaks in the academic year create a void in manpower. SALSA partnered with the Clinic in an effort to fill this void during the winter, spring, and summer breaks and law students assist with incoming calls under supervision of SALSA staff.
This summer the number of callers has spiked because of increased need for assistance; over 100 callers have been called back in the short span of one month. Without the assistance of the SALSA Law Clerks (Caitlin Harrington and Michael Argenal) who are making this project their priority this summer, many of these individuals/families would not be able to access the resources needed to come up with a game plan of how to proceed regarding their housing issue.
Community members seeking assistance with a housing issue can call the hotline at (210)570-6135. Callers are instructed to leave a message with their full name, phone number and a brief description of their legal issue. The caller will then receive a return call and a after a short screening process, the caller will be able to access an attorney or supervised law student via phone who can share information regarding possible resources for assistance as well as forms renters may complete to represent themselves in eviction proceedings. Information about the hotline is available in both English and Spanish.
To learn more about volunteering and taking one of the housing cases that is referred from the hotline, please visit our website here: https://www.sa-lsa.org/volunteer/available-cases/.