Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic

Clinic students provide transactional business law representation to entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, and community groups.  Our clients are strengthening their communities through job creation, the production and preservation of affordable housing, asset building strategies for low-income individuals, and the provision of innovative and valuable goods and services for their communities.

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Cases and Projects

Our Taco House Cooperative

The Clinic has worked with the founders of Our Taco House Cooperative for two years, educating them about the requirements under Texas law for worker cooperatives and helping get them ready to launch their business. Our Taco House Cooperative is a worker-owned cooperative taco restaurant started by two former employees of a very popular Tex-Mex restaurant in East Austin. Our Taco House Cooperative will provide delicious, affordable tacos to Austin residents and will create jobs that enable workers to support themselves and own and govern their own business. The Clinic assisted the owners with creating a Texas Cooperative Association, including articles of incorporation and bylaws; prepared an employment manual; provided intellectual property counseling; and prepared other legal documents specific to worker cooperatives. Our Taco House Cooperative was recently featured in an article by the Austin Eater: https://austin.eater.com/2017/8/22/16180294/our-taco-house-co-op-tamale-house-3

Small Dollar Lending Program

The Clinic has worked with Texas Community Capital for several years, assisting with the organization’s statewide expansion of the Community Loan Center’s Affordable Small Dollar Loans Program. The Small Dollar Loans Program is an innovative, employer-based, lending program that provides individuals with low-interest loans of up to $1,000, repayable over a one-year term, as an alternative to predatory payday loans. Local, nonprofit lenders from across Texas administer the Program, marketing the Program as a voluntary benefit to employers in their geographic area. The Clinic has assisted the local lenders with obtaining their regulated lender licenses from the Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner; prepared the contracts that run between the local lenders and Texas Community Capital; and provides ongoing legal counsel to Texas Community Capital with regard to the implementation and operation of the Program. The CLC Program was featured in a blog by the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations in April 2015.

Affordable Housing Work

The Clinic has worked with the Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation (GNDC) for many years, preparing transactional real estate documents, counseling the Board of Directors, and making presentations to third parties, including local appraisal district officials. GNDC is a tax-exempt, non-profit organization in Austin that has been developing and preserving affordable rental and homeownership housing in East Austin for over thirty years. In the past few years, with help from the Clinic, GNDC has developed the first Community Land Trust program in Texas, in which homes are sold to homeowners, while the land underneath the home is leased to the homeowner via a 99-year ground lease. The ground lease prepared by the Clinic contains specific resale restrictions that ensure the home will remain affordable for future owners and also that each homeowner will gain some equity in the home over time. This innovative affordable housing tool enables GNDC to create and maintain affordable homeownership in East Austin, benefiting both current and future low-income homeowners. GNDC’s Community Land Trust work was featured in The Atlantic in July 2015.

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