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File #: 22-6039    Version: 1 Name:
Type: Financial Authorization Status: Passed
File created: 9/23/2022 In control: Commissioners Court
On agenda: 9/27/2022 Final action: 9/27/2022
Title: Request by Community Services for approval of $4,000,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to provide eviction defense legal services for low-income residents through targeted awards. These funds will support a network of housing legal service providers and non profits to meet increased demand.

Department: Community Services

Department Head/Elected Official: Dr. Adrienne M. Holloway, Executive Director

 

Regular or Supplemental RCA: Supplemental RCA

Type of Request: Financial Authorization

 

Project ID (if applicable): N/A

Vendor/Entity Legal Name (if applicable): N/A

 

MWDBE Contracted Goal (if applicable): N/A

MWDBE Current Participation (if applicable): N/A

Justification for 0% MWDBE Participation Goal:  N/A - Goal not applicable to request

 

Request Summary (Agenda Caption):

title

Request by Community Services for approval of $4,000,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to provide eviction defense legal services for low-income residents through targeted awards. These funds will support a network of housing legal service providers and non profits to meet increased demand.

end

 

Background and Discussion:

As the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States and Harris County are facing an eviction crisis. Eviction filings in Harris County are above the pre-pandemic average: from January through July 2022, landlords filed 121,248 evictions; tenants were represented by an attorney in only 1.96% of those cases. In one week in August 2022 alone, Justice courts scheduled 1,865 eviction hearings. These figures do not include informal evictions, in which families self-evict before receiving a formal notice of a court setting.

 

In 2021, Harris County established the Housing Legal Services Initiative (“HLSI” or “the Initiative”), in response to an anticipated increase in number of evictions, especially for non-payment of rent due to household financial losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lift of the National Center for Disease and Control (CDC) eviction moratorium, and to maximize the impact of the County’s COVID-19 rental assistance program.

 

The HLSI makes short-term, non-cash, in-kind emergency disaster relief in the form of consulting, referral, legal, and other related legal services directed to cure legal needs due to COVID-19 for qualifying applicants in Harris County, Texas. The total sum allocated to fund this Program is $4,000,000. Applicants may apply for funding for an initial period of up two years.

 

Expected Impact:

This program aims to develop a sustainable infrastructure for court-based advice, counsel, and representation for tenants at imminent risk of eviction. It also aims to reduce increase of homelessness and housing instability during the COVID-19 public health crisis and recovery by representing tenants with evictions and preserving tenancies. It is expected to increase eviction prevention legal services for low-income renters across the county regardless of their immigration status, and increase knowledge through community education and outreach among Harris County tenants about their legal rights and responsibilities relating to their tenancies, including evictions and living conditions.

 

Alternative Options:

Not providing eviction defense legal services for low-income residents.

 

Alignment with Goal(s):

_ Justice and Safety

_ Economic Opportunity

X Housing

_ Public Health

_ Transportation

_ Flooding

_ Environment

_ Governance and Customer Service

 

Prior Court Action (if any):

Date

Agenda Item #

Action Taken

8/24/2021

21-4328

Passed: Commissioners Court approved a one-year agreement between Harris County and Lone Star Legal Aid to administer the Harris County COVID-19 Housing and Legal Services program in support of legal services for renters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the amount of $1,000,000 funded by COVID Response and Recovery Funds

 

Location:

Address (if applicable):

Precinct(s): Countywide

 

Fiscal and Personnel Summary

Service Name

Legal Services

 

SFY 22

FY 23

Next 3 FYs

Incremental Expenditures (do NOT write values in thousands or millions)

Labor Expenditures

$

$

$

Non-Labor Expenditures

$

$2,000,000

$2,000,000

Total Incremental Expenditures

$

$2,000,000

$2,000,000

Funding Sources (do NOT write values in thousands or millions)

Existing Budget

Choose an item.

$

$

$

Choose an item.

$

$

$

Choose an item.

$

$

$

Total Current Budget

$

$

$

Additional Budget Requested

2651 - American Rescue Plan 2021

$

$2,000,000

$2,000,000

Choose an item.

$

$

$

Choose an item.

$

$

$

Total Additional Budget Requested

$

$2,000,000

$2,000,000

Total Funding Sources

$

$2,000,000

$2,000,000

Personnel (Fill out section only if requesting new PCNs)

Current Position Count for Service

0

0

0

Additional Positions Requested

0

0

0

Total Personnel

0

0

0

 

Anticipated Court Date: September 27, 2022

Anticipated Implementation Date (if different from Court date): N/A

Emergency/Disaster Recovery Note: COVID-19 related item

Contact(s) name, title, department: Dr. Adrienne M. Holloway, Executive Director, CSD

Attachments (if applicable): Scope of Work