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Protecting all people from discrimination and economic abuses, especially in the realm of housing.

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Housing & Economic Rights Advocates (HERA)

HERA is a California statewide, not-for-profit legal service and advocacy organization dedicated to helping Californians, particularly those most vulnerable, build a safe, sound financial future, free of discrimination and economic abuses, especially in the realm of housing. We provide free legal services in-person, by phone, fax, or email.

Workshops

Upcoming Dates and Topics

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Free Legal Clinic

Free legal clinic on Dealing with Debt Collection Problems / How to Access Affordable Credit / Credit Reporting.

Is someone calling saying you owe money? Are they threatening you? How do you make it stop? Maybe it's for a debt you've never heard of. Is someone promising to fix your credit for you? Or did you apply for credit and get denied or get offered an interest rate that seems too high? Is a homeowner association or their collection company coming after you? You have rights! Learn what they are and what options you have.
en español ⇒

Our Work

This Is What We Do

Housing & Economic Rights Advocates (HERA)

HERA is a California statewide, not-for-profit legal service and advocacy organization dedicated to helping Californians — particularly those most vulnerable — build a safe, sound financial future, free of discrimination and economic abuses, especially in the realm of housing.
We provide free legal services in-person, by phone, fax, or email.

What We Believe

We Believe
You Are HERA

We believe all residents of the State of California should be protected against discrimination in credit and housing.

We Believe
You Are HERA

We believe all residents should be able to build a safe financial future.

We Believe
You Are HERA

We believe in safe, happy people, diverse communities, strong schools, enough money for a good life, equal access for everyone, a healthy environment, affordable credit, thriving small business, clear information, inexpensive/high-quality housing, smart growth, asset building and asset preservation.

What We Offer

Some of the services that HERA offers

  • Free legal advice
  • Representation in court for individuals in some cases
  • Consumer workshops
  • Trainings and technical assistance for attorneys, government, counselors, social workers and more
  • Collaboration
  • Policy work
  • Building new institutions

The Work We Do

We promote affordable and fair credit access, asset building and preservation. We fight abusive mortgage servicing, problems with homeowner associations, foreclosure, escrow and other homeowner problems. We fight predatory lending of all kinds. We provide financial counseling to individuals and community education workshops. We train attorneys. We train professionals and service providers who are not attorneys. We translate our clients' experiences and needs into policy work. We collaborate with many different partners across the state.

Investigations and Litigation

HERA litigates cases that we think have merit. Some we litigate as individual cases, others as class actions. Click below to see a little bit of our current and prior work.

Investigations and Litigation ⇒

Policy Advocacy

At HERA, we translate what we learn from our clients into policy work, most of which we pursue with many partners.

Read More ⇒

Hear from HERA Clients

A veteran describes what it means for HERA to have worked with him to save his home.
Castillo's Story (English page)
The Camelo's Story - Avoiding scams in the face of foreclosure

You Should Know This

Resources. Information. And all the news that's fit to post.

Selected News on Events, Cases and People Affecting Your Home or Financial Life.

Read News ⇒

Latest Settlements of Cases by Regulators and Others, Reports and Studies, and Other Items of Interest.

Read Announcements ⇒

HERA offers workshops to provide legal information to the public on a wide variety of topics, including debt collection and credit, and how to keep your home and avoid foreclosure. Topics will rotate over time. Check to see which workshops are bilingual and in which languages.

Our next workshop will take place on Thursday, December 18th
Learn More ⇒

You may have tax issues that come up when you have debt that is forgiven, or when you get other financial assistance. HERA does not offer tax advice, but to help you out, we have links here to IRS and other websites to get you started in educating yourself. We also list resources for finding someone to help with taxes. Private tax experts are not free. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites are free to folks who are lower income, but VITA sites do not generally handle more complicated tax issues.

KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org has advice on possible tax consequences from their assistance: Link »

The IRS has information on the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Tax Relief Act and on Debt Cancellation: Link »

To find help from private tax professionals: Link »

For a list of VITA sites: Link »

HERA is currently offering three brochures FREE to the public.

Our brochures provide information that is both easy to read and loaded with the details that will help you better understand your rights.

Our publications are useful to practitioners and consumers alike but are particularly geared towards the general public.

See Our Brochures ⇒

Debt Collection, Managing Debt, Accessing Credit.

We can provide you with financial counseling and help you through some of the tough decisions. In the meantime, here are helpful resources:

FTC - Dealing with debt collectors: Link (English) »
Link (Spanish) »

Other videos (credit reports, scams, id theft, etc.): Link (English) »
Link (Spanish) »

Protections Against Credit Discrimination: Link »

Debt Collection- What Are My Rights? Link »

Compare Financial Aid and College Costs: Link »

Planning for Retirement: Link »

How Can I Have A Safer Financial Future As a Servicemember? Link »

Complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau About Your Consumer Issue: Link »

Scammed? File a Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission: Link »

la Oficina para la Protección Financiera del Consumidor). El CFPB: Link »

la Comisión Federal de Comercio: Link »

Becoming a homeowner or trying to keep your home or make it more affordable?

We can counsel you on these complex questions. In the meantime, here are helpful resources:

Home Loans, Home Improvement: Link »

Avoid Mortgage or Foreclosure Relief Scams: Link »

If You're Having Trouble Paying Your Mortgage: Link »

"What Is a Reverse Mortgage" from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Link »

Reverse Mortgage Guidance from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Link »

Victim of housing, loan servicing or lending discrimination? Contact HUD.

Are You A Victim of Housing Discrimination? Read this.
Arabic | Cambodian | Chinese | English | Korean | Russian | Spanish | Vietnamese

Pleadings Bank:
HERA maintains a library of useful legal pleadings to help consumer attorneys help the public. Membership is required to access these pleadings.
Log-In to Pleadings Bank ⇒
Apply for membership ⇒

Webinars and Audio Trainings:
NEW:  What a Homeowner's Attorney Needs to Know About Debt Collection, Foreclosure and Discrimination by California Homeowners Associations (Free) Link »

Troubleshooting Mortgage Servicing Problems: Regulatory Responses and Advocacy Approaches: Link »

New Developments in Residential Loan Servicing: State, Federal and Programmatic Laws, Regulations and Standards: Link »

Residential Lending after the Crash: An Update on How Dodd-Frank and the CFPB Have Changed the Rules of Home Loan Origination: Link »

Bankruptcy, Mortgages and Foreclosure: What Bankruptcy Can and Can't Do for Borrowers in Distress: Link »

Connecting the Dots: Family Law, Housing Law, and Trusts and Estates Practitioners Discuss Mortgage Debt, Families and Foreclosure (Free): Link »

Mortgage Debt Forgiveness, Foreclosure and Tax Consequences: Link »

Making The Most of California's New Homeowner Bill of Rights: Link »

About Us

The HERA Team

Maeve Elise Brown

Maeve Elise Brown manages operations, supervises staff and participates in the organization's substantive work with 25 years experience as a public interest attorney.
Read complete bio ⇒

Gina Di Giusto

Gina Di Giusto brings experience as a clerk at a local legal services program, a fellowship at the Superior Court in Alameda County, representation of residents of publicly subsidized housing before local housing authorities and advice to the public on landlord-tenant issues, and provision of assistance on family law matters.
Read complete bio ⇒

Joseph Jaramillo

Joseph Jaramillo is an experienced litigator who has dedicated his career on serving the public interest. He focuses on individual and class action litigation on behalf of homeowners and borrowers.
Read complete bio ⇒

Elizabeth Letcher

Elizabeth Letcher has practiced as a public interest attorney for over a decade. She is a 1994 graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law, University of California.
Read complete bio ⇒

Malika Noel

Malika Noel works on all aspects of our practice, including foreclosure prevention, debt collection, credit reporting issues, and a variety of other homeowner concerns.
Read complete bio ⇒

Lisa Sitkin

Lisa Sitkin counsels individual clients, assists with predatory lending and related litigation, serves as a consumer advocate in communications with lenders, loan servicers and legislative bodies and assists with administration of the office.
Read complete bio ⇒

Noah Zinner

Noah Zinner has represented people from low to moderate income communities on legal issues ranging from housing discrimination and eviction, to predatory lending and wrongful foreclosure, to unfair debt collection and credit reporting.
Read complete bio ⇒

Reach Out to Us

We look forward to working with you!

Contact HERA

  • inquiries@heraca.org
  • (510) 271-8443
  • (510) 868-4521 (fax)
  • MAILING ADDRESS:
    P.O. Box 29435
    Oakland, CA 94604-0091

Involve Yourself in HERA

Participate! Give$$$! Give Expertise!

Participate!

Law students, interpreters and translators, attorneys, social workers, psychologists. Please contact us at participate@heraca.org.

Donate

Cash, land, securities — it all helps. Please contact us at give@heraca.org.

Give Expertise

For research, studies, analysis, and things we have not thought of yet. Email suggestions to suggestions@heraca.org.