On February 20, after years of work by EBCLC, community land trusts, and Berkeley government, Mayor Jesse Arreguín introduced the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), a groundbreaking affordable housing policy that prevents displacement by empowering tenants with choices when their owner decides to sell. Raise your voice for TOPA today!
In the News
During a recent presentation at Berkeley Law before a packed lecture hall, two leaders of this effort—Carroll Fife and Leah Simon-Weisberg—described the rewards and challenges involved. The event was moderated by Osha Neumann, a lawyer with the East Bay Community Law Center, whose work includes protecting the civil rights of homeless people.
“Our advocates utilize a highly diverse set of strategies to fight poverty, and our old system wasn’t set up to track and report on our community outreach, impact litigation, and policy change work,” he says. “For all these reasons, we needed a system that was highly customizable – something that could support our frontline attorneys in managing everything from eviction defense and asylum applications to employment advocacy and business entity formation. We’re really happy to have found all that we need in LegalServer!”
“With funding, TOPA can level the playing field for low-income tenants and affordable housing developers, create pathways to homeownership and preserve and create more affordable housing during a time when we desperately need it,” said EBCLC attorney Seema Rupani at the press conference.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 2/18/2020: Los Angeles County Ends Assessment Of And Discharges $1.8 Billion in Adult Fees. The Debt Free Justice California coalition commends the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for ending county-sanctioned racialized wealth extraction through criminal fees.
Seema Rupani, an attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center, said rents in places like Oakland and Berkeley have risen as more people have left San Francisco for the East Bay, pushing out longtime residents, particularly African Americans. “The rent is just impossible,” Rupani said, adding that displacement has also meant “loss of community.”
“It has been forever that the property of homeless people has been considered garbage,” said Osha Neumann, an East Bay Community Law Center attorney representing the plaintiffs. “The people are considered garbage and their property has been considered garbage, and that’s not OK. This says they have the same constitutional protections as anyone else.”
Founded in 1988 by Berkeley Law students, the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) is the largest non-profit provider of free legal services in Alameda County, serving more than 5,000 clients each year delivering client-centered, community-driven, and culturally-responsive services and engaging in legislative and policy advocacy.
We use legal and administrative strategies to mitigate the impact of inequitable and unjust systems on low-income individuals, families, and communities while advocating for systemic change at the local and state level. EBCLC’s ability to address a wide range of substantive legal issues, including housing, health, immigration, consumer and court debt, community economic development, juvenile defense, school expulsion, and community reentry, enables us to build a more healthy, secure, productive, and hopeful community.
In addition to our legal advocacy work, EBCLC functions as a law school teaching hospital, serving as the community clinic for Berkeley Law and preparing over 150 law students every year to become skilled and principled advocates committed to finding innovative solutions to the causes and conditions of poverty.
Over our 30+ year history, we have grown to a staff of more than 70, organized in eight legal clinics within five broad program areas, with an $8 million annual budget, two office locations, and a deeply supportive and engaged Board of Directors.
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
EBCLC seeks an Office Manager to support the core Office and Administrative functions.
The Office Manager is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day reception, technology, and facility needs of EBCLC’s University office in Berkeley. The position requires someone committed to creating a professional environment that provides respectful and compassionate services to clients contacting the office by phone or in person, who can build a collaborative team to support clients, staff, and law students, and apply good judgment and strong administrative and organizational skills to the needs of the office.
“For years we heard complaints of people who told us they had to stand by helplessly while Caltrans crews threw belongings they treasured into trash compacting garbage trucks,” said Osha Neumann, supervising attorney at the East Bay Community Law Center. “Sometimes people with disabilities were given only a few minutes to move everything they wanted to save. We hope, with this settlement, those days are over.”
Most advocates for tenants rights and homeless people believe housing is essential, much like food or water. “It has to begin with the recognition of what it takes to be a human being,” said Osha Neumann, an attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center and longtime defender of people experiencing homelessness.
“If someone has a right to life, someone has a right to what is required to live that life,” Neumann said. “And housing, shelter is certainly one of those things.”