Heather Way (pictured), a professor at University of Texas School of Law and director of the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, and three students, one who graduated last spring, may now look forward to a gratifying sense of accomplishment.
“We definitely think we have contributed to the dialogue,” Way says.
In the spring semester of 2013, she and the three students completed an investigation of the city of Austin’s policies for addressing deleterious apartment conditions and then in August, they published a report of their findings. That report recommended that the city adopt a rental registration ordinance that requires mandatory registration and periodic inspections of all multi-family units. Their report also recommended that city council move to bolster the resources of Austin’s city-attorney and code-enforcement offices so they can better track down and prosecute violators of housing ordinances.
As a result of their report's recommendations, by the end September, the Austin city council is likely to vote on related proposals, Way says.
A collapse of an apartment building in Austin more one year ago, an accident that displaced dozens of occupants, inspired her students to begin their investigations in the spring, Way says, noting, although tragic, the event created “a wonderful opportunity for the students.”
-- Miriam Rozen