Joe Colangelo, Managing Attorney
Whitney Geitz, Litigation Attorney
Jodi-Kaye Haber, Litigation Attorney
Eric Magana, Berkeley Outreach Coordinator/Case Manager
Anne Tamiko Omura, Executive Director
Amanda Prieto-Lara, Office Manager/Contracts Compliance/Certified Paralegal
Lauren Russo, Litigation Attorney
Peter Selawsky, Litigation Attorney
The Eviction Defense Center ["EDC"] is a non-profit law corporation that serves low-income tenants in Alameda County and the City of Richmond. The EDC was founded in 1996 by six attorneys in private practice who wanted to help low-income tenants facing eviction who could not afford a private attorney. To help start the EDC, each of these six attorneys generously donated one day a week of their time to work pro bono at the Center and make court appearances. They also donated a portion of their income from private practice to fund the Center. Within months of opening its doors, the Eviction Defense Center has a line outside of the door because the need for court representation of indigent tenants was so great.
For the past 20 years, the EDC has been dedicated to serving the low income community, with a focus on : disabled tenants, elderly tenants, catastrophically ill tenants, single caregivers with young children, households with young children, veterans, domestic violence survivors, and recent immigrants. The EDC has worked to organize tenants in slum properties and has collaborated extensively with the City of Oakland to fight for repairs of substandard rental properties. The Eviction Defense Center is one of the few agencies that offers representation in court through trial to indigent tenants, and legal services are either free or very low cost.
The EDC serves over 1400 clients each year, the majority from the beginning of litigation through settlement or trial. In over 70% of cases the Eviction Defense Center handles, the tenant is disabled, and in over 60% of the cases the EDC handles, there are young children in the home facing eviction. The Eviction Defense Center is founded on the belief that true access to justice is not achieved unless even the poorest and most disenfranchised litigant has the opportunity to be heard by the court, particularly when they stand to lose something as important as their housing.