In 2020, Rebecca LaBelle moved to San Antonio from Virginia when her husband, Jesse, a military servicemember, was stationed here. As a transplant, she has fresh eyes for her city, and she’s used both her recent past and her transition as an opportunity to help families in her new home.
In Virginia, LaBelle worked for a law firm that specialized in processing evictions. The law firm worked with attorneys and property owners to expedite eviction cases, often leaving families with nowhere to go in as few as five days. In many cases, these families did not have much more than the things they could carry.
Helping process efficient evictions was jarring for Rebecca—so much so that she became determined to find a vocation where she could see families who are facing the threat of evictions find a path to success.
When she arrived in San Antonio, that’s what she set out to do.
According to Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, Bexar County processes close to sixty evictions per day—nearly double the rate in 2003. The numbers continue to rise.
LaBelle landed at Prosper West, a local nonprofit that works “to make San Antonio’s Westside a more prosperous place for families and businesses,” according to their website. LaBelle helps gather key stakeholders in the community for impact committee meetings and discussion groups. The stakes are high for these concerned neighbors, including developers, residents, and nonprofit leaders. Many people who live on the Westside are facing steep climbs—generational wealth gaps, a lack of affordable housing, and a long history of disinvestment.
LaBelle may be a newcomer to San Antonio, but she has found herself at the center of a longtime local struggle.
“San Antonio is a city that my husband and I have grown to love, and I hope to see it and our neighbors thrive.”
While LaBelle works to address these issues in her role at Prosper West, she also spends time in pursuit of more tools to combat the realities that face families in San Antonio. In 2020, LaBelle began work on a master’s degree in social work from the University of Texas at San Antonio. The stories of trauma and unfortunate circumstances that LaBelle revisits are pivotal to her studies.
She hopes her work in San Antonio and her coming degree will help her help families facing evictions. “Things are only getting worse for families,” she says.