Heather K Way

Heather K Way

  • Clinical Professor
  • Co-Director - Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic

Faculty Profile: Heather K Way

Main Profile Content


Heather K. Way co-directs the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, which delivers transactional legal assistance to small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and community groups in Texas. Way has more than 20 years of experience working on the creation of equitable and inclusive communities, with a focus on affordable housing, gentrification and displacement, problem properties (including code enforcement), land title issues, informal housing, seller financing, and housing preservation. In addition, Way is the founder and steering committee member of the UT Opportunity Forum, an interdisciplinary collaborative of faculty at the University of Texas at Austin working on fostering equitable communities.

Way was previously a Skadden Fellow at Legal Aid of Central Texas, where she founded Texas Community Building with Attorney Resources, a statewide program that has delivered millions of dollars in pro bono legal assistance to CDCs and other nonprofit organizations. After graduating from UT Law, Way clerked for the Honorable William Wayne Justice of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

She is the co-host of the Uprooted Website, which features resources for addressing displacement in gentrifying neighborhoods, and the co-author of several recent reports: Texas Anti-Displacement ToolkitUprooted: Residential Displacement in Gentrifying Neighborhoods and What Can Be Done About It, and Out of Order: Housing's Dangerous Apartment Epidemic. Additional recent writings include Real Property for the Real World, a book of hands-on case studies for property law courses based on real cases and Protecting Homebuyers in Low-Income Communities: Evaluating the Success of Texas Legislative Reforms in the Texas Informal Homeownership Market, which examines contract for deed regulations. 

Way is a recipient of the Faculty Excellence in Public Interest Award from Texas Law Fellowships and the Outstanding "Houser" Award from the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, and was recognized as an Austin Affordable Housing Hero by Interfaith Action of Central Texas. Way was also recognized as the Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas by the State Bar of Texas Young Lawyers Association, and one of the Top 40 Lawyers Under 40 by the Texas Lawyer.

Courses for Fall 2021

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Professional Activities



September 1, 2020

Lead author, "Public Facility Corporations and the Section 303.042(f) Tax Break for Apartment Developments"

This report examines the 100% property tax exemption available for apartment developments through a special type of public facility corporation structure under Section 303.042(f) of the Texas Local Government Code. While the exemption received little notice when it was adopted by the Texas Legislature in 2015, the use of this exemption is rapidly growing and delivering annual property tax breaks to apartment developers of close to $1 million per property on average.

July 15, 2020

Moderator of Panel, "Homes for All? The Future of Public Housing"

New Cities Virtual Conference: New Housing Solutions Live

February 24, 2020

Guest on Texas Public Radio's program, the Source

Guest on hour-long radio program discussing the UT Law Entrepreneurship and Community Clinic's report on San Antonio's vanishing mobile home parks

February 14, 2020

Panelist at ABA Mid-Year Meeting, for Panel on "Legally Stolen Lands: Impacts and Remedies for Historically Disadvantaged People"


October 14, 2019

"Place Matters: The Role of Public Housing Authorities in Expanding Inclusion in the US"

Paper co-authored with UT colleagues Elizabeth Mueller, Jake Wegmann, and Deidre Zoll presented at the International Forum on Housing and Community Development

September 4, 2019

Presenter, Community Benefits Agreements: What's All the Buzz About?

Poverty Law Conference — State Bar of Texas

May 23, 2019

Panelist, "Residential Preference Policies and the Fair Housing Act"

American Bar Association Affordable Housing and Community Development Forum Annual Conference

May 17, 2019

Presenter, "How to advocate for more equitable uses of tax increment financing and other tax subsidies to support community development and fair housing goals."


Download (PDF)

May 9, 2019

Presenter: Gentrification and Displacement Mitigation Tools

City of Dallas Housing Policy Taskforce, Neighborhood Quality of Life Committee

May 8, 2019

Presentation on Community Land Trusts

The Real Estate Council, Dallas, Texas

March 5, 2019

Panelist, "Local Strategies to Address Displacement in Gentrifying Neighborhoods"

Texas Association of Community Development Corporations, 2019 Annual Conference


June 15, 2018

Presenter at the conference: Heirs Property in the South: Fostering Stable Ownership to Prevent Land Loss and Abandonment

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Presentation on "From Cities to Colonias: Strategies to Stop the Regeneration of Heirs' Property"

April 10, 2018

Quoted in Atlantic Monthly article on predatory lending with seller financing products

"A House You Can Buy, But Never Own: African Americans in the same neighborhoods decimated by subprime lending are now being targeted with new predatory loan offerings, a lawsuit argues," by Alana Semuels

February 6, 2018

Interviewed on Houston Matters, Houston Public Media, on Houston's dangerous apartment epidemic

"Update: UT Report Cricizes How City of Houston Conducts Apartment Inspections"

February 6, 2018

Quoted in Houston Chronicle article on Houston's dangerous apartment epidemic

"Houston's apartment safety measures 'severely inadequate' UT study finds"


September 2, 2017

Interviewed on NPR's All Things Considered on clouded titles impacting natural disaster victims

"How Clouded Titles Affect Victims of Natural Disasters"

April 14, 2017

Presenter on "Strategies to Combat Substandard Rental Housing"

State Bar of Texas 2017 Poverty Law Conference

April 3, 2017

Presenter on "Fair Housing and Issues in Community Development"

Texas Association of Community Development Corporations Annual Conference

February 21, 2017

Quoted in Houston Chronicle

"Putting numbers on Houstn's demand for affordable housing," by Lydia DePhillis

February 20, 2017

Invited Panelist on Affordable Housing Priorities for Harris County and Houston

Houston and Harris County Housing Conversation Summit


June 1, 2016

Quoted in article on PBS NewsHour's Rundown Blog

"Here's why low-income households may gamble with homeownership"

May 23, 2016

Presentation on "Healthy, Sustainable and Quality Communities" at Texas Access to Justice Foundation Meeting

May 10, 2016

Quoted in New York Times article on contract for deed issues

"Contract for Deed Lending Gets Federal Scrutiny," by Matthew Goldstein and Alexandar Stevenson.

April 22, 2016

Moderator of Panel on "United Our Dividing City: Closing the Racial Wealth Gap"

LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas

February 20, 2016

Quoted in New York Times Article

"Market for Fixer-Uppers Traps Low-Income Buyers," by Matthew Goldstein and Alexandra Stevenson

February 19, 2016

Quoted in Austin American-Statesman Article

"Poor tenants vs. development: Case microcosm of changing East Austin," by Shonda Novak


Fall 2015 to Spring 2016

Organizer of series of UT Opportunity Forum events on "Uniting Our Divided City"

As one of the most segregated cities in the U.S., Austin has a long history of inequity that has left deep divisions across many sectors of our community. How has the city reached this point, and what can be done to address these persistent divides? This Opportunity Forum series explored a number of issues related to Austin's racial and ethnic inequalities, including wealth divides, educational divides, and health disparities.

October 15, 2015

Roundtable Leader on "The Multiple Meanings of Blight: from injustice and social disorder to reclamation of vacant properties and urban regeneration"

Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Annual Conference

July 27, 2015

Quoted in Austin American-Statesman Article

"Report: Austin program to track, improve unsafe housing isn't enforced," by James Barragan and Lilly Rockwell

July 27, 2015

Quoted in KUT News Story

"Report Calls for Action on 'Repeat Offender' Properties"

Summer 2015

Report Co-Author

Co-Author of “An Analysis of Austin’s Repeat Offender Program and Efforts to Address Dangerous Rental Properties.” The report expands on the Clinic’s prior work in this area and outlines a number of policy recommendations to improve Austin’s programs for addressing dangerous properties.  The report follows a series of tragedies involving hazardous conditions at local rental properties, which have led to the displacement of dozens of low-income tenants, as well as deaths.

May 8, 2015

Presenter and Panelist, "Low-Income Homeowners and the Problem of Tangled Titles: Innovative Strategies to Secure Homeownership Assets," at the ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference

April 2015

Speaker on "Legal Hot Topics in Community Development"

Texas Association of Community Development Corporations Annual Conference in Houston

April 2015


Op-Ed Author, "Texas must do more to create inclusive affordable housing," published in the Austin American-Statesman and San Antonio Express News.


August 13, 2013

Addressing Problem Properties: Legal and Policy Tools for a Safer Rundberg and Safer Austin

Report and Executive Summary: www.utexas.edu/law/clinics/community/workhighlights.php


October 26, 2012

Opportunity Forum Gentrification Series: Protecting Tenants Displaced from Redevelopment Projects

LBJ School of Public Affairs


October 21, 2012

Informal contracts still put many Texas homeowners at risk, UT study shows

Austin American-Statesman


September 12, 2012

Breakdown of Austin's 2012 Tax and Fee Increases



August 31, 2012

Tenant Displacement in Austin

A Policy Report Analyzing the City of Austin's Tenant Relocation Policy at Shoreline Apartments with Recommendations for a City-Wide Policy Approach


August 31, 2012

The Contract for Deed Prevalence Project

A Final Report to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA)


March 22, 2012

Expanding Fair Housing Opportunities for Low-Income Minority Families

UT School of Law

Access Heather K. Way's PowerPoint presentation and video of the panel here.

February 2, 2012

Next Generation of Smart Growth: The Mueller Community

New Partners for Smart Growth Conference



October 1, 2011

LBJ School of Public Affairs and William Wayne Justice Center Collaborate on a ‘Contract for Deed’ Study in Texas Colonias


April 30, 2011

Fair Housing Legal Toolkit for Permanent Supportive Housing Providers: Addressing Local Opposition to PSH Developments

Prepared by the Community Development Clinic


January 31, 2011

Linking Transportation and Affordable Housing

Presentation for the City of Austin's Affordable Housing Forum



August 31, 2010

Furthering Fair Housing Choices for Voucher Tenants: A Report for HousingWorks

A report written by the Community Development Clinic.



November 30, 2009

Texas Problem Properties Toolkit: A Resource to Help Texas Communities Address Problems Created by Abandoned and Vacant Properties, 2010 Edition

A toolkit created by the Community Development Clinic.


September 16, 2009

Expanding the San Antonio Toolkit to Create Sustainable & Affordable Housing Opportunities: Models from Austin and Beyond

San Antonio Community Development Summit


May 20, 2009

The Texas Two-Step: Local Resources and Regulations that Increase Affordable Housing

American Bar Association, Forum on Housing and Community Development Law, 18th Annual Conference:



November 30, 2007

Building Hope: Tools for Transforming Abandoned and Blighted Properties into Community Assets: A Report on Dallas, Texas

A report prepared for Builders of Hope by the Community Development Clinic.


March 31, 2007

Preserving Austin's Multifamily Rental Housing: A Toolkit

A toolkit prepared for HousingWorks Austin by the Community Development Clinic.