Spring family facing eviction turns free legal aid for help

Jessica Willey Image
Friday, August 14, 2020
TSU offers free legal assistance for those facing eviction
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Something 100+ people a week in Harris County can relate to: Watch as a Marine veteran explains just how hard it is to have to ask for help.

SPRING, Texas (KTRK) -- Behind on rent for the month of July, Trina and Mike Taylor are being evicted from their home in Spring where they live with their 12-year-old son.

They lost their jobs and their car. They go to court on Monday.

It has been a struggle since March. Mike, a disabled veteran who served for 10 years, is a proud Marine.

"I'm a Marine. You're always supposed to," he trailed off. "It's not supposed to be like this."

"He feels like a failure because he's not providing," added Trina.

"Failure is not an option," he said.

According to Princeton's Eviction Lab, eviction filings are creeping up in Harris County, and the Taylors are among the hundreds who face eviction every week.

They sought free legal aid to help them through the process.

The Earl Carl Institute at Texas Southern University's Thurgood Marshall School of Law is one organization that is providing free legal assistance to help tenants. It's the "Eviction: Know Your Rights" initiative, and staff attorney Richard Amagula gave ABC13 his best advice.

"One of the worst things you could do is not do anything, because that's your easiest way to lose. So, the best thing you can do is reach out for legal representation," he said.

It can help tenants navigate already difficult times.

If you face eviction, you should know that a landlord can never physically remove you from your residence. A landlord is required to give you a written notice to vacate before filing a lawsuit, and that lawsuit must state why you are being evicted.

The process can be short, but Amagula said having legal representation can buy you more time.

RELATED: Where Houstonians who can't pay rent during COVID-19 can turn for help

The Taylors say their landlord has been gracious and will let them stay if they come up with the $1500 dollars for July rent next week.

They turn to distractions, prayer for Trina and drawing for Mike, to get them through.

"If I can think about what I'm drawing, I don't have to think about where I'm at," Mike said.

To request free legal assistance, call the Earl Carl Institute at 713-313-1158. There is an income eligibility requirement.

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Worried about eviction? Wondering if you qualify? We have the answers you need here.