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, in all aspects of household financial concerns. We provide free legal services, consumer workshops, training for professionals and community organizing support, create innovative solutions and engage in policy work locally, statewide and nationally.

What We Believe

We Believe
You Are HERA

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

You Are HERA

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

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.

Announcements

 

Help from the ACLU

Attention immigrants and refugees from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Libya. If you are denied entry or are detained by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), remember
You Have Rights!

 

Client Story of the Month

Fraudulent Solar Panel Sale
A family was misled by a door-to-door salesman about a home improvement project. Learn how HERA helped reclaim their money.
Read the Story

 

New Estate Planning Services

Our new estate planning service can advise you and prepare your estate documents.

Contact us today!

Financial Wellness Workshops

Upcoming Dates and Topics

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.

See Our Calendar for Workshop Details ⇒

Our Work

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 fight discrimination in financial services and consumer transactions.
  • We provide financial counseling to individuals and community education workshops.
  • We train service providers and other professionals.
  • We translate our clients' experiences and needs into policy work.
  • We collaborate with many different partners across the state and country.
  • We create positive solutions for vulnerable residents.

Whom We Work With

We help both low and moderate income California residents. We give special focus to vulnerable groups and key issues. These include:

Reentry

Reentry

HERA helps people going through reentry and their family members build or rebuild their credit, and we teach you how to address lingering debt problems so that you get a fresh financial start.
Contact HERA for more information

Students, College and Debt

Students

HERA helps you figure out the cost of college, legitimate providers, and how to pay for college. We help you manage student loan debt, whether from college or a for-profit school, and we fight predatory lending practices and scams.
Contact HERA for more information

Debt Collection Problems

Debt Collection

HERA helps you understand your legal rights to various kinds of debt and coaches you through the process of how to handle it. Many different kinds of debts have different rules describing your rights. On all debts, you have a right to be treated properly by whoever is trying to collect on a debt. HERA teaches you your rights and protects you.
Contact HERA for more information

Seniors

Seniors

HERA helps seniors figure out how to hang onto their home and age in the community where they want to be. We also help seniors figure out how to manage all of their debts and other financial concerns.
Contact HERA for more information

Building Credit Safely

Building Credit Safely

Everyone needs to understand how credit works and how it affects their lives. It is also important to figure out how to build or improve your credit, and how to manage it afterward. HERA helps you with that.
Contact HERA for more information

Veterans and Servicemembers

Veterans

Veterans and servicemembers are targeted for financial scams and expensive credit. Veterans can also face additional burdens financially and need particular help addressing debt and credit concerns. HERA helps veterans and servicemembers and their families handle both.
Contact HERA for more information

Immigrants

Immigrants

HERA helps immigrants understand and navigate our complex financial services systems. We also help immigrants build credit, address collections concerns and abusive practices that target them.
Contact HERA for more information

HOA Abuses

HOA Abuses

Homeowner Associations ("HOAs") and debt collectors for the HOA often erroneously handle homeowner accounts: sometimes they try to collect money that homeowners do not owe, or they misapply payments made by homeowners, or they prematurely threaten foreclosure. This can lead to excessive costs and/or wrongful foreclosure on homeowners, particularly older adults or people with disabilities.
HERA helps homeowners understand their legal rights and how to hang onto their home.
Contact HERA for more information

People of Color

People of Color

People of color are targeted for abusive consumer scams and products. We help you understand your rights and address the problems you are having.
Contact HERA for more information

LGBTQ

LGBTQ

LBGTQ residents are frequently denied fair acess to credit and consumer services.HERA helps you understand and fight for your rights.
Contact HERA for more information

Medical Debt

Medical Debt

California residents who are uninsured or who face high medical costs have a right to free or discounted care for services received at hospitals. Some have committed to high-cost private financing that may be hard to keep up with or going into collections.
If you have high medical bills or medical bills in collection, HERA can help you understand your legal rights and how to address these problems.
Contact HERA for more information

Estate Planning

Estate Planning

There is a racial and gender wealth gap in our country. HERA provides full service estate planning services on a sliding scale to help you keep what you have and protect yourself and family.
Contact HERA for more information

Alternative Energy Concerns

Alternative Energy

Seniors, immigrants and people of color and vulnerable homeowners are being targeted for home energy installation and financing scams.HERA helps you address the scam and understand your rights.
Contact HERA for more information

Follow Us!

You can find and like HERA on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to us on Youtube and follow us on Instagram.
Find out about our workshops, read great articles, see pictures of our work.

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.

In 2017, HERA conceived of and created a unique six-language website of resources, veted by staff, so that residents in need can know where to turn to for various financial needs across the state of California. In addition, money-happy.org shares tips and insights on financial tools. HERA continues to build-out resources county-by-county.

Visit Money-Happy ⇒

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

Read News ⇒

Read Our Blog (HERA in the 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.

See Our Calendar for Workshop Details ⇒

HERA is currently offering several brochures FREE to the public. Our informative brochures are easy to read and 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 ⇒

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:
Public Interest Boot Camp 2018 (Free) Link »

Representing Modest Means Homeowners in Association Disputes: Key California Statutes and Consumer Protections (Free) Link »

Bankruptcy Basics for Low-Income Clients 2017 (Free) Link »

Reentry in California – Overcoming Legal Barriers to Community Reintegration 2017 (Free) Link »

California Eviction Defense 2.0: Beyond the Basics of Protecting Low-Income Tenants 2018 (Free) Link »

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 ⇒

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

Policy Advocacy ⇒

HERA periodically produces research papers to highlight findings from our research and practice.

Working Papers ⇒

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:

Identity theft victims can now go online and get a free, personalized identity theft recovery plan as a result of significant enhancements to the Federal Trade Commission's IdentityTheft.gov website. Link »

Protégese contra el robo de identidad Link »

What's that chip doing on my credit card? Link »

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 »

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:

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Helps You With Home Buying Process- What To Expect, What It Should Cost: Link »

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 »

CONOZCA SUS DERECHOS!
Qué debe hacer si la policía, agentes de inmigración, o el FBI lo detienen:
Versión 1  Versión 2

CONOZCA SUS DERECHOS!
Guía sobre sus derechos en relación a contacto con oficiales de inmigración o la policía: Español

CONOZCA SUS DERECHOS!
Guía de derechos de inmigrantes en los lugares de trabajo: Español

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
What do to if you're stopped by police, immigration agents, or the FBI:
Version 1  Version 2

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
A Guide to Your Rights When Interacting with Law Enforcement: English

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
A Guide to Workplace Rights for Immigrants: English

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
A Resource for Students, Parents and Guardians: English

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!  What do to if you're stopped by police, immigration agents, or the FBI:  Chinese Version

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

Attention Former Corinthian Students:
Changes to STRF Eligibility Parameters: Link »

Video - Medina Legislation Assists Corinthian College Students: Link »

Compare Financial Aid and College Costs: Link »

Repaying Student Loan Debt- Options: Link »

Attention Former Corinthian Students:
Changes to STRF Eligibility Parameters: Link »

Options for Students: Download »

Corinthian College Students — Where to Get Help: Link »

U.S. DOE information: Link »

Can't figure out how to approach getting an auto loan?

Did you end up with a pricier loan than you wanted? Is there a problem with the car? Wondering how to shop for a used car?

Here's helpful information, and you can contact HERA if you still have questions:

How to Buy A Used Car: Link »

Why am I being asked for a co-signer? Does shopping for a loan affect my credit? What's a loan to value ratio? And more... Link »

Denied a checking account? Link »

Guides to help you open and manage your checking account Link »

Payday

You might qualify to join a community credit union and get the kind of loan you want. More information on what a community credit union is.

Find a community-based credit union in your area. You can search (filter) for credit unions by state: Link ».

Pitfalls of Mobile Banking and Wallets: Link ».

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Retirement Planning Tool Link »

Planifique para su jubilación —Antes de solicitar Link »

CFPB tips to protect your credit when you're active duty: Link »

Housing and Support Services for Low Income Veterans and Their Families: Link »

Personal Finance for Military Families: Link »

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Resources for Servicemembers: Link »

Federal Trade Commission Resources for Servicemembers and Vets: Link »

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 »

About Us

The HERA Team

Maeve Elise Brown

Maeve Elise Brown Executive Director and a founder of Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA), manages operations, supervises staff and participates in the organization's substantive work.
Read complete bio ⇒

Kendra Bowen

Kendra Bowen is of counsel to HERA providing estate planning services to individuals, educational workshops for the public, and training for attorneys.
Read complete bio ⇒

Gina Di Giusto

Gina Di Giusto is a staff attorney at HERA working on unfair debt collection, wrongful credit reporting, mortgage and foreclosure issues.
Read complete bio ⇒

Joseph Jaramillo

Joseph Jaramillo is a Senior Attorney at HERA, bringing 21 years of experience as a litigator who has focused his career on serving the public interest.
Read complete bio ⇒

Aeyoung Kim

Aeyoung Kim is a staff attorney at HERA providing estate planning services and probate assistance by way of individual legal services and counseling, workshops for the public, and training for attorneys.
Read complete bio ⇒

Arthur D. Levy

Arthur D. Levy is HERA's Director of Litigation, with over 35 years of litigation experience focused on class actions representing consumers in major banking, lending and insurance cases.
Read complete bio ⇒

Brenda Orellana

Brenda Orellana is HERA's Paralegal and Administrative Assistant. Previously, Ms. Orellana volunteered with various community organizations.
Read complete bio ⇒

Megumi Tsutsui

Megumi Tsutsui is a Staff Attorney at HERA bringing experience working in legal services on predatory student loans and with strategic litigation centers on enforcing economic and education rights.
Read complete bio ⇒

Noah Zinner

Noah Zinner is a Managing Attorney at HERA. Noah oversees all of HERA's non-mortgage financial justice legal work including predatory for-profit schools, student and medical debt, and abusive auto and small dollar loans.
Read complete bio ⇒

Reach Out to Us

We look forward to working with you!

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Contact HERA

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