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Housing and Economic Rights Advocates

aka HERA   |   Oakland, CA   |  www.heraca.org

Mission

HERA is a California statewide, not-for-profit legal service and advocacy organization dedicated to helping Californians \u2014 particularly those most vulnerable \u2014 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.

Ruling year info

2006

Executive Director

Ms. Maeve Elise Brown Esq.

Main address

P.O. Box 29435

Oakland, CA 94604 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

20-2573758

NTEE code info

Other Housing Support Services (L80)

Civil Rights, Advocacy for Specific Groups (R20)

Economic Development (S30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

HERA is a California statewide, not-for-profit legal service and advocacy organization dedicated to helping Californians \u2014 particularly those most vulnerable \u2014 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.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Surviving Family - Saving The Family Home

When a loved one dies, the last thing that survivors need to address is home foreclosure because they are not also listed on the mortgage loan. Across California (and nationally), HERA has advocated - and continues to advocate - for humane policies that address this issue, having obtained rules from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to require the servicer to talk to the surviving spouse or other family member. HERA educates the public on their rights and protections, and we added estate planning as a service in 2017 to help residents keep the family home in the family and facilitate intergenerational wealth transfer to help address the gender and racial wealth gap.

Population(s) Served
Families
Adults
Economically disadvantaged people
Immigrants and migrants
Victims and oppressed people

HERA is the only California statewide, not-for-profit legal service and advocacy organization with the mission of ensuring that all people are protected from discrimination and economic abuses, especially in the realm of housing. At HERA, we believe a key task of attorneys is to educate consumers. We believe most life goals and challenges have financial and legal components inextricably intertwined. We focus particularly on the needs of those most vulnerable, including lower-income people, the elderly, immigrants, people of color, women, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, service-members and veterans, and youth.

HERA’s in-depth, one-on-one financial counseling entails review and analysis with residents of all of their debts, other expenses, all income, bank accounts (if any), and credit report. We counsel on how to improve income, reduce debt, address collections and credit reporting problems, and on less costly alternatives for borrowing and financial institution accounts. We work with residents to meet their financial wellness goals. We are unusual in our range of service strategies, combining (1) financial/legal education of vulnerable residents targeted for various predatory practices (not just housing related), (2) trainings for professionals, (3) legal services for individuals, (4) research; (5) technical assistance to professionals, (6) community organizing, and (7) policy work.

HERA believes that financial literacy should include educating the public on the legal rules of the road regarding debt (types of debt, amount, and collections), credit (reporting and access), bank accounts (types, costs, value), and access to affordable credit as this information is essential to prevent and address most financial problems.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Families

HERA's work saving homes through legal advocacy and litigation continues. Many homeowners still owe more than what their home is worth, and many are still struggling to regain their financial footing and maintain or obtain steady employment. HERA advocates directly with mortgage servicers, regulators, and the courts to help people keep their home.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Families

People need the opportunity for a fresh start, and need help fighting aggressive debt collectors who ask for payment on debts that are not owed, ask for fees that are not owed, and sometimes target vulnerable people including women, people of color, veterans, youth, and immigrants for collections scams. HERA continues to expand our work to address student loan and medical debt issues.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Immigrants and migrants
Adults
Victims and oppressed people

An important element of financial wellness is planning for the future. In 2017, HERA established an Estate Planning practice to support vulnerable low-to-moderate income California residents in managing and preserving their assets for the people they care for most. We offer services to protect the family home for future generations seeking to remain in their chosen communities. HERA's estate planning services offer residents an opportunity to designate financial choices for the future.

Population(s) Served
Families
Immigrants and migrants
Adults

Family caregivers frequently find themselves caring for others with little to no preparation or support. Frequently, caregivers leave paying work that can have major financial impacts in the future. With few options for paid leave, many individuals, most frequently women, leave their paid positions to serve as caregivers. HERA seeks to provide financial wellness education for caregivers that benefits the caregiver, their families, and those in their care. Our support includes workshops, clinics, and individual coaching/counseling to support the family caregiver's personal finances, and help prepare them to care for another's finances as well.

Population(s) Served
Seniors
Economically disadvantaged people

Servicemembers and veterans are particularly vulnerable to predatory lending abuses, and other financial scams. HERA has prioritized up and is expanding outreach and services to Servicemembers, veterans, their family members and caregivers.

Population(s) Served
Military personnel
Veterans

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA) has a broad economic justice, anti-discrimination mission of creating a level economic playing field for all Californians, with a special emphasis on those most vulnerable in our state.

Housing and Economic Rights Advocates seeks to achieve our goal through a combination of direct services to individuals, workshops to educate the public, trainings to expand the pool of trained professionals who can assist the public or identify issues, technical support for professionals helping protect low and moderate income Californians, policy work that grows from our individual advocacy and lessons learned from working directly with the public, and supporting the creation of new institutions to serve the needs of the public. Asset building and maintenance, addressing debt collection and credit reporting abuses, financial scams, mortgage servicing company abuses, homeowner association problems, helping people learn how to identify and access affordable credit-- these are among the many issues that HERA is working on. We are nimble, and flexible, shifting strategies as the needs of Californians shift.

Housing and Economic Rights Advocates is recognized across the state and nationally for the unique role we play in California and tremendous legal/financial expertise brought by our staff of attorneys. Our breadth and depth of experience allows us to be nimble and address interconnected financial and legal issues. HERA believes that financial literacy should include educating the public on the legal rules of the road regarding debt (types of debt, amount, and collections), credit (reporting and access), bank accounts (types, costs, value), and access to affordable credit as this information is essential to prevent and address most financial problems. We have worked extensively to get important consumer concerns and stories into the media to help educate consumers and bring the issues they struggle with into the public discourse. We present on both English and Spanish language media, and have successfully partnered with New America Media to outreach through ethnic media outlets, including those serving Chinese and Tagalog speaking residents. In 2017, HERA launched a multi-lingual, mobile-enabled website (www.money-happy.org) to provide financial wellness information and links to secure and reliable resources.

HERA has served over 16,000 Californians since opening in 2005, and received consistently positive feedback from clients, and from the other professionals whom we train and support. In 2015 and 2016, our work reduced the debt load of our clients served individually by $6 million. For the past three years, HERA\u0027s one-on-one work has helped improve clients\u0027 credit scores from 50 to 100 points each. Improved credit scores often improve our clients\u0027 asset building and housing opportunities, and lead to each individual meeting their personal financial goals. We have helped to fill a gap in legal/financial services and will continue to apply our resources creatively to broaden Californians access to help to build a safe financial future. We have provided over 560 consumer education workshops, usually partnering with both governmental and non-profit partners, covering complex topics, including state and federal laws affecting homeowners\u0027 ability to keep their home, credit reporting and debt collection rules and rights and student loans. We have tremendous expertise at conveying complex information at emotionally challenging points in time in people\u0027s lives. We frequently teach in homeless shelters, seniors\u0027 centers, affordable housing developments, libraries, community centers, and at offices of social service providers.

Financials

Housing and Economic Rights Advocates
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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Housing and Economic Rights Advocates

Board of directors
as of 01/31/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Justin Berger

Cotchett, Pitre \u0026 McCarthy

Scott Chang

Housing Rights Center

Todd Espinosa

Law Offices of Todd Espinosa

Darci Burrell

Levy Vinick

Sandra Price

Sideman & Bancroft LLP

James Zhang

NerdWallet

Amyn Jivani

Googlecloud

Brian Gee

Greenberg Traurig

Justin Berger

Cotchett, Pitre, McCarthy

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/23/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American/African
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

No data