Four protesters with posters march outside of a courthouse.
Protesters march Aug. 21 outside a courthouse in Houston. Credit: Houston Public Media

Harris County will soon launch a program to provide free legal counseling to residents facing eviction.

The Eviction Defense Program will give qualifying Harris County residents free legal counseling related to their eviction case and the opportunity to meet with an attorney or legal representative at the court where their eviction case is held.

To qualify, a Harris County household’s income must be at or below 300% of the current Federal Poverty Guideline — for reference, that’s $90,000 for a family of four. Residents can also qualify if their household income is 65% of Harris County’s Area Median Income.

According to data from January Advisors, 167,842 eviction cases have been filed in Houston since January 2020.

“Evictions are high in Harris County due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Toi Babineaux, manager of the county’s Community Services Department. “We’re just excited to get this program launched and to help the residents of Harris County to be aided with eviction defense.”

Due to continuously high number of evictions, Babineaux said she was expecting “huge demand” for the program.

“I’m assuming anywhere between 200 to 300 calls a day to these providers to get these services in place,” Babineaux said.

Residents can apply for assistance with Neighborhood Defender Services or Lone Star Legal Aid starting April 10.

For program enrollment, contact Neighborhood Defender Services at (210)952-9259 or Lone Star Legal Aid at (713) 652-0077.