Advancing Justice Through Policy
Our policy initiatives include systems-change work focused on building solutions for and in collaboration with the communities we serve.
Recent Victory Highlights
We are proud to partner closely with activists, community organizations, government agencies, philanthropic leaders, and researchers to advance racial equity through policy changes.
Our recent victories represent widespread economic relief and progress—in many cases, for all 40 million Californians, not just East Bay residents.
$16B+ in Debt Eliminated
Eliminated 23 criminal justice system fees & discharges of $16B+ in outstanding debt for formerly incarcerated Californians
COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium
Kept Californians housed throughout the pandemic, creating the nation’s longest and strongest COVID-19-related eviction moratorium.
Protecting Low Income Homeowners
Protected low-income homeowners by ending the forced sale of family homes over small, unsecured debts, i.e., unpaid medical bills.
Systems Change in Action:
Alameda County Eviction Moratorium
For more than three years, the East Bay Community Law Center has partnered with our clients and peers to uphold the longest, strongest COVID-19-era eviction moratorium in the country. This critical public policy has kept people healthy, housed, and safe during one of the deadliest periods in U.S. history.
“In March 2020, while the world was grappling with an unprecedented health pandemic, EBCLC sprang into action. We intimately understood the danger facing our clients and their communities, and so pushed for housing policy to be integrated with healthcare. We passed one of the first eviction moratoriums in the country and created a compassionate, common-sense model for the federal eviction moratorium, jurisdictions throughout the Bay Area and around the country,” said Executive Director Zoë Polk.
Protecting Youth from Surveillance
AB 2658 limits probation departments’ ability to track data through GPS monitoring on youth, and their ability to cross-reference this information with a young person’s age, race, and gender. Probation departments will also be prohibited from using GPS ankle monitors as recording or eavesdropping devices.
Limiting Criminal Background Checks
AB 1720 was signed in 2022, which removed barriers from the criminal background check process for people, particularly women of color, applying to work at care facilities.
SB633 requires businesses to provide translations of notices to co-signers on all consumer credit transactions. It gives the state’s monolingual residents stronger consumer protections and rights by informing co-signers, and warning of their obligations if the primary borrower defaults.
Reforming Civil Assessments
With AB 199, California has significantly changed its traffic court late fees or ‘civil assessments.’ All civil assessments on or after July 1, 2022, must be set at no more than $100. Debt from any civil assessment late fees before July 1, 2022, have now been eliminated.
Advocated for expansion of DACA and relief and freedom for all undocumented community members. Despite judicial attacks, EBCLC continues legal consultation and renewals of DACA applications, through our “kindergarten to college” school-based immigration clinics.
Debt Protection for Working Families
EBCLC worked to expand protections for working class people against predatory debt settlement companies through bill AB 1405, which passed in October 2021. It will strengthen consumer rights, increase transparency, and improve regulation to protect low-income residents in California from unfair practices in the debt settlement industry.
Driver’s License Suspensions
EBCLC represented plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Hernandez v. CA Department of Motor Vehicles, challenging the DMV’s suspension of licenses. As a result, the DMV lifted 554,997 improperly imposed suspensions, allowing working-class people affected by the lawsuit to drive legally, work, and resume supporting their families.
EBCLC’s anti-displacement policies prioritize low income renters and communities of color and create pathways to homeownership. Our Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) policies give tenants options to have secure housing when the property they rent goes up for sale, while also preserving affordable housing.
Alternatives to Youth Incarceration
EBCLC was an active member of the Free Our Kids Coalition, which halted Alameda County’s plans to spend $75 million to rebuild its 100-bed juvenile probation camp, Camp Sweeney. The Coalition also advocated for the release of incarcerated youth during the pandemic and centered the needs of impacted youth and residents in the implementation of Senate Bill 823, which closes the state’s youth prisons.
Gender Marker Changes on Federal IDs
EBCLC advocated for changes to federal policies to make it easier for transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) people to change their gender marker on their passports. In June 2021, the State Department announced that it would no longer require applicants to submit medical certification to change the gender marker, allowing TGNC people to live more authentically and increasing access to medical services and employment.