William Wayne Justice Center receives grant to help low-income hurricane survivors clear the title to their homes

The Law School’s William Wayne Justice Center has received a $500,000 grant from the Texas General Land Office to fund work on the Texas Title Homeownership Opportunity Program Project. The GLO grant comes from federal funds designated to assist Hurricanes Dolly and Ike survivors relocate to higher opportunity neighborhoods. The project is part of a larger coordinated hurricane recovery program that includes the participation of communities affected by the disasters, advocates for low-income survivors, and local, state, and federal agencies. The Justice Center will administer the project at the Law School, with Frances Leos Martinez as the project director and Lucille Wood as the project senior attorney.

The project will provide a multifaceted approach to help low-income homeowners clear the titles to their land and homes destroyed by Hurricanes Dolly and Ike. By clearing titles, the project will enable these homeowners to obtain government rebuilding assistance so that they can safely live in their homes or rebuild in higher opportunity areas that are less prone to future natural disasters. The project has a threefold mission: (1) to clear title for families participating in the program; (2) to develop a legal services delivery model that can be implemented in future disasters; and (3) to study barriers to clear title in Texas low-income communities affected by disasters.

The project will fund two one-year post-graduate fellowships. The fellows, one located in Houston and one located in the Texas Rio Grande Valley, will assist the project staff and work with local public- and private-sector attorneys, social work professionals, and community stakeholders. The fellowships are open to students who graduate from the Law School with a JD in December 2012, May 2013, or August 2013, and sit for the bar in February or July 2013. The project will also fund a ten-week, Austin-based summer fellowship this summer.

For more information, see the fellowship descriptions at www.utlawjusticecenter.org.

Contact: Eden Harrington, director of the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law, UT Law, 512-232-7068, eharrington@law.utexas.edu.

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