The Houston Bar Foundation, or HBF, has received a $500,000 grant from CenterPoint Energy to provide pro se litigant assistance to thousands of Harris County residents, according to a press release.

“CenterPoint Energy takes its responsibility to be a good corporate citizen seriously,” CenterPoint Energy Executive Vice President and General Counsel Monica Karuturi said in a press release. “We recognize the significant need to support self-represented litigants and are honored to provide this grant, which will help give people hope that justice will always be served.”

The charitable arm of the Houston Bar Association, the HBF will partner with Houston Volunteer Lawyers to work with other local community stakeholders on two initial implementation phases. The HBF selected Houston Volunteer Lawyers to lead the beginning implementation of this grant because it is one of the largest providers of pro bono legal services in Texas, according to a press release.

In the first phase, HBF will grant funds to Houston Volunteer Lawyers to investigate the best models of providing support to pro se litigants. In the second phase, Houston Volunteer Lawyers will use those funds to implement the recommendations outlined in phase one. It is anticipated that Houston Volunteer Lawyers’ services will begin at the Harris County Civil Courthouse no later than early 2025.

“There is a severe justice gap in our community between the needs of low-income Houstonians and the resources currently available to meet those needs,” Houston Volunteer Lawyers Executive Director Jessica Howton Stool said in a press release. “Given that Houston Volunteer Lawyers and other local organizations are unable to take every case that qualifies for pro bono assistance and recognizing that, for some, access to quality legal advice and information is sufficient to support them as they navigate the civil legal system, the availability of pro se legal assistance is crucial toward helping to address the justice gap in Houston.”

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