Pro Bono Opportunties with the HTD Team
The Housing, Transportation and Disaster Team helps ensure that people with disabilities have access and opportunities to rent or own homes and apartments in their communities. This work includes ensuring that landlords and property owners do not discriminate against persons with disabilities in renting or selling property, making sure that housing is accessible to people with disabilities to the extent required by law, and advocating to increase the amount of accessible, affordable and integrated housing for individuals with physical and mental disabilities.
This team also works on matters involving all public and private transportation providers, such as bus companies, trains, airlines, taxis and shuttles, ensuring each follows the law in making services available and accessible to persons with disabilities.
With disasters of different kinds unfortunately becoming more commonplace, the HTD team is focusing efforts on ensuring people with disabilities receive accessible disaster services, whether in shelters, temporary housing, emergency communications, financial relief, and other areas.
Clients often need assistance with asking their employers for accommodations and filing complaints with Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or Transit authorities. With the current eviction crisis in our country, many need legal counsel to understand their rights and what actions they can take to protect themselves from being unlawfully evicted.
We have the following opportunities with the HTD team for pro bono attorneys:
Transit Authority Appeals
Transit authorities are required to provide paratransit services to persons with disabilities who cannot access the mainline bus system. A person with a disability may appeal the denial of paratransit services by a transit authority. The appeal is an informal administrative hearing usually conducted by phone where the person with disabilities submits additional evidence to support their request for paratransit services. A pro bono attorney can assist the client in compiling the necessary medical documentation and representing them in this informal hearing. Not surprisingly, persons with disabilities who are represented by counsel are more likely to prevail in these appeals than those who are not.
Requests for Reasonable Accommodations in Housing
Federal and State laws provide that persons with disabilities can request reasonable accommodations to assist them in places where they live. These accommodations can range from wheelchair ramps and designated parking spaces to special equipment to unrestricted access at home for service animals. Persons with disabilities also have the right to file formal complaints when they are discriminated against by a landlord. DRTx has enlisted the assistance of pro bono attorneys to advise clients and assist them in understanding what their rights are with regards to requesting accommodations or filing formal complaints. The pro bono attorney usually interviews the client, gathers any necessary documents to support the request or complaint, and drafts the request or complaint on behalf of the client. Most requests or complaints are resolved at this stage.
Disability Rights Texas would be happy to provide training on handling EVA Team cases to any attorneys interested in pro bono representation. Additionally, we provide ongoing support and assistance ranging from technical support to co-counseling depending on the need and desire of the pro bono attorney handling the case.
If you are interested in becoming a DRTx Pro Bono Volunteer Attorney for the EVA team or scheduling a CLE for your office, firm, or corporate law department, please contact Cicely Reid, Pro Bono Coordinator, in one of the following ways: