From a meeting between San Antonio councilwoman Shirley Gonzales and university faculty to discuss needs of residents in her district and, in particular, creating additional opportunities for home ownership, UTSA’s Policy Studies Center launched a new initiative called Project RHEP, or Roadrunners Helping with Estate Planning, to help residents with property-title issues and estate planning in an effort to prevent or resolve homeownership issues.
Along with Gonzalez’s district, the Mexican American Unity Council, National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders, and LiftFund collaborated on the project, which focused on residents of low or moderate income.
RHEP students have created a resource guide, written in both English and Spanish, to raise awareness of the issues that can arise from not having a clear title to a property. The resource guide has encouraged homeowners to be proactive about maintaining a clean and marketable title to their property and to make certain to have a succession plan in the event of their death. A housing fair held last year attracted more than 400 residents and 327 registered with RHEP or the Mexican American Unity Council for assistance. RHEP opened 78 cases, closed 27, and referred five cases to other organizations.
Along with the experience of helping the residents, Project RHEP paired UTSA students with a licensed attorney to receive simple estate-planning information, such as details regarding wills or so-called deeds on death. Participating students could become a certified notary in Texas and receive one-on-one training to help prepare simple estate-planning documents. Project RHEP also has assisted in identifying resources for residents who may have complex concerns, such as title clearing and rehab loans