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Erin Gaines

2014, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Erin Gaines

Erin Gaines

Name of Host Organization: Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
City, State: Victoria, Texas
Issue area: Environmental Justice, Health Care, Housing/Homelessness
Sponsors: The Ottinger Family Foundation, Anonymous

The Project

Erin promoted access to safe housing in underserved neighborhoods along the Texas Gulf Coast by addressing health and safety hazards from nearby industries through litigation, administrative advocacy, and community education.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
Low-income communities of color bear disproportionate health and safety burdens from industrial facilities sited in their neighborhoods. As shown by the 2013 West Fertilizer Company plant explosion in Texas, industrial facilities can also pose catastrophic risks to nearby communities. Gulf Coast residents living alongside some of the largest industrial plants in the country face increased risks of chronic health problems as well as daily nuisances from dust, loud noises, and odors. Yet few people have access to adequate healthcare or the ability to move to safer neighborhoods. This project will fill a critical gap in legal services by working to stop harmful health impacts or to obtain resources for residents to move to safer neighborhoods.