SAN ANTONIO – Many places closed down during the pandemic, but Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services to people who can’t afford an attorney, stayed open.
With eviction hearings starting in Bexar County in June, attorney Christina Trejo said they have been preparing by setting up referral sources with community partners.
“Now that June 1 date is on the horizon, we are seeing an uptick in the eviction applications,” said Trejo.
Trejo said the attorneys are working with the City of San Antonio and collaborating with them on the Right to Counsel program.
“Through that program, when a person applies for financial assistance with rent or mortgage, because they’re having financial problems, they’re referred to us for an analysis and evaluation to see if they have legal remedies available to them,” Trejo said.
Trejo said they are also working with San Antonio Legal Services Association, a nonprofit organization also providing free legal services to those in need.
Trejo said the San Antonio housing attorneys at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid have 71 open eviction cases working.
She said this isn’t more than usual, but she anticipates that number will skyrocket in June, once Bexar County begins eviction hearings again.
During the pandemic, she said they have been seeing a lot of nonpayment of rent eviction cases.
They are expecting to see “people who probably never had a problem paying rent before and suddenly found themselves in this position, that they are completely unable to pay the rent. They don’t have a job,” Trejo said.
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid has also updated its website to make it easier for people seeking help.
Some of the site's housing resources include information about appealing an eviction, what to do when your landlord locks you out and information about the CARES Act.
Trejo said it's important for residents to find out if the CARES Act covers their rental property.
“It was legislation that was designed to protect people during the pandemic period, so people who live in a property that’s protected by the CARES Act have a lot more protection,” Trejo said.
The City of San Antonio has a map showing where those properties are located.