Housing counseling available for city residents through Austin Tenants Council
The Austin Tenants Council, in partnership with the City of San Marcos, is offering their guidance and over-the-phone counseling regarding fair housing and housing rights free of charge for San Marcos residents.
“Basically, the Texas State University off campus living and the City of San Marcos, we both annually contract with Austin Tenants Council to provide this service for our community. So that’s how we’re involved in what they do,” said Tiffany Harris, Community Vitality Coordinator for the City of San Marcos.
The Austin Tenants Council is a 50-year-old nonprofit located on the eastside of Austin that deals with a variety of issues regarding the tenant and landlord relationship.
According to Philisa Campbell, Landlord-Tenant Program Director, some of the most common issues that tenants seek assistance on is air conditioner repair and rent increases.
“Nine times out of 10 the landlords are just dropping this increase on our families, and it’s coming out of nowhere, they’re blindsided and we get our intakes through either phone or email, we’ll get an email saying hey, ‘So my landlord decided to add an extra $600. Can he do that?’ Unfortunately, yes, he can. We also help with discrimination, that’s when we send them over to our Fair Housing Department,” Campbell said.
Texas State University students and city residents alike are eligible to receive the free phone counseling.
“We specifically right now can provide services for residents of San Marcos, and then students of Texas State who might live slightly outside of San Marcos, that sort of thing. And then we also currently serve residents of Travis County,” said Emily Brezinsky, Assistant Program Director for Housing Advocacy.
To reach a housing advocate through the telephone counseling line, individuals can call 512-474-1961. Housing advocates are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until noon, and Monday through Thursday from 1-4 p.m.
The Austin Tenants Council can provide assistance with various issues and problems that a tenant or landlord may run into.
“Maybe some common myths and conceptions would include things like the difference between an application fee and a security deposit,” Campbell said.
Campbell explained that the Austin Tenant Council is there to assist with the smallest of problems to bigger, more complex issues and highlighted the importance of tenant’s rights.
“Utilize us, we take the guesswork out of what you need to do so you know what you’re doing is straightforward, and it’s direct,” Campbell said.
According to Harris, Texas State students have other resources when it comes to issues with off-campus living including the The Attorney for Students (AFS) Office.
“It never hurts to ask questions. So if you even think that maybe you have the right answer, it doesn’t hurt to give us a call and just kind of double check,” Brezinsky said.
For more information, visit the Austin Tenants Council website at https://www.housing-rights.org/.