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.
Authors: Heather K. Way and Carol Fraser, The University of Texas School of Law Entrepreneurship and Community Clinic
Houston is a city of renters, with more than 420,000 rental housing units and the third highest number of occupied apartments in the country. Many of these apartments, however, are unsafe and deteriorating. Following decades of weak building standards and feeble code enforcement, Houston is now in the midst of a dangerous apartment epidemic. The report explores the roots of the epidemic, investigates issues with the city’s existing apartment safety programs, and recommends strategies to improve the city’s programs and improve tenants’ housing conditions.
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
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.