Eviction Convictions

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.

In recent years, San Antonio has seen the effects of COVID-19, rising housing prices, and interest rates on mortgages inflating to unattainable levels for many. The influx of new families coming into San Antonio is a positive for our local economy in many ways, but it also comes with inflated housing costs, rising property appraisals, foreclosure rates that top the charts, and rampant evictions. And while the City of San Antonio has attempted different ways to mitigate these issues, including a recent moratorium on evictions and rental assistance payment programs, it is never enough.

The LaBelle home, near Alamo Ranch, is filled with laughter, good vibes, work, and lots of studying. LaBelle says that when she and Jesse aren’t home, they would like to be on a nice beach, traveling, hanging out with family, or on a ranch with their beautiful 800-pound rescue horse, Miles. But she says her passion to help families is more important right now.

LaBelle has “fallen in love with San Antonio,” but also developed a drive to repair systems that cause families to face hardships like eviction.

“San Antonio is a city that my husband and I have grown to love,” she says, “and I hope to see it and our neighbors thrive.”

To learn more about evictions in San Antonio visit these resources:

Kicked Out: A San Antonio Express-News Investigation

Eviction Lab, A project of Princeton University

Ousted: The City of San Antonio’s Displacement of Residents through Code Enforcement Actions, A University of Texas at Austin School of Law Report

Visit Prosper West to get involved with an impact committee.

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