To promote justice and build a community that is more secure, productive, healthy, and hopeful by providing:
- Legal services and policy advocacy that are responsive to the needs of low-income communities
- Law training that prepares future attorneys to be skilled and principled advocates who are committed to addressing the causes and conditions of racial and economic injustice and poverty.
East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) envisions a California where Black and Indigenous communities, and those at the intersection of multiple oppressions, are positioned to realize thriving, healthy, and dignified lives with our three-pronged approach of:
- Our eight expert lead direct legal service practice areas with legal teams trained to resolve intersecting legal challenges caused by poverty and racial injustice.
- Our robust clinical education program in partnership with the University of California Berkeley School of Law boasts of training over 150 law students as racial justice advocates annually.
- Our holistic statewide policy advocacy with legislation written and championed by EBCLC advocates, securing Californians millions of dollars in discharged court debt, rock-solid consumer protections, and transformative civil rights for children, workers, and whole communities.
Rather than treating legal crises in isolation, EBCLC’s holistic approach aims to address the entire suite of legal and social service needs of under-resourced Black and Latinx clients, bringing together legal experts across housing, health, immigration, education, community economic empowerment, organizing, and social work case management.
Meet Zoë Polk
“Black and Brown people are often referred to as ‘system impacted’ when in fact they are ‘system intended.’ Most of EBCLC’s clients are women of color, heads of households, aged 25-44 years old, and women with ambitions to launch their own businesses, organize movements, build homes and lead full thriving lives. It is our honor to work on their team and, in doing so, work towards our collective liberation.” – Zoë Polk
As EBCLC’s newest Executive Director, Zoë’s biggest goal for her first year was to ensure that her team would be able to serve the Bay Area’s most vulnerable populations. She is a proud Black, queer leader that knows the work her team is doing is critical to keeping clients, especially those who identify as Black and Brown essential workers, housed and healthy throughout this ongoing pandemic.
As EBCLC’s fourth-ever Executive Director, Zoë is dedicated to deepening EBCLC’s commitment to racial and economic justice. In under a year, she’s changed the composition of her executive management team to better reflect the racial diversity of EBCLC’s staff and the communities. In her first six months, Zoë installed an all-women of color Leadership Team and appointed 10 people of color to the Board of Directors. Zoë’s deep commitment to racial justice will lead to transformative changes for our communities, and our team is on the frontlines of radical racial justice work.
Our Key 2021 Victories:
As a women of color-led and centered organization, EBCLC has and will continue to invest in strategies and solutions for women of color. This is the ﬁrst year that we have focused on this platform as a result of an in-depth analysis of existing client data as well as an organization-wide recommitment to racial justice work.
- Gender Marker Changes on Federal ID’s:
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.
- 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.
- Drivers 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.
- Anti Displacement Strategies:
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.
- Eviction Moratorium:
As a leader in housing justice, EBCLC played a key role in creating and advocating for the eviction moratorium in Alameda County. Despite national and state moratoriums ending, Alameda tenants will continue to be protected from all eviction notices served or unlawful detainer complaints filed from March 24, 2020 through at least 60 days after the County public health emergency is lifted.
East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (Tax ID: 94-3042565). Access our audited financial statement here.