A major focus of ECHO Housing is on preventing homelessness and ensuring safe, fair and affordable housing for families of all backgrounds. The non-profit operates in most towns and cities in Alameda and Contra Costa County California, including the city of Oakland. They offers many services to qualified low and moderate income clients, including counseling, rental and mortgage assistance programs.
The main objective of the organization is to provide resources and encourage access to housing. Case managers also work with clients on the prevention of homelessness, evictions, and foreclosures. They promote permanent housing programs in their service territory.
The RAP Rental assistance program is a short term solution for tenants with a temporary financial setback. Both back rent and a security deposit can be paid. As part of this assistance, ECHO and the RAP program will require a guaranteed repayment contract between the tenant and their landlord or apartment manager. The Rental Assistance Program can help families and individuals and families with paying for security deposits, move in costs, or also delinquent rent.
Additional security deposit assistance can be obtained from the Revolving Loan Fund. It assists Alameda County CalWORKs families with paying for move-in costs, and a low interest loan can be issued to do this. Staff from ECHO will administer grant applications for qualified Alameda County clients who need move-in funds or that have an imminent eviction notice.
Mediation and counseling for landlords and tenants is offered by highly trained mediators. They will work with all parties in an effort to find a solution and to end any housing disputes through mediation and conciliation. One goal of the counseling is to prevent homelessness and build awareness of housing laws.
Mortgage counseling is for homeowners that are falling behind and faced with foreclosure on their primary residence. The non-profit ECHO is a HUD certified agency and their Mortgage Default Program assists families and individuals that are in danger of losing their homes to missed mortgage payments or foreclosure. This service is not always offered.
Shared housing can help tenants save money on their rent and the other party, who leases or owns the home, can also benefit as well. The non-profit will coordinate referrals and matching services, supportive services, counseling on shared living and offer other information and referral. Staff also provide interested parties educational workshops on shared living.
Reverse Annuity Mortgage Program is for senior homeowners. It is formally known as the Home Equity Conversion (HEC) and is offered in Oakland and Hayward. Seniors can get information and counseling from ECHO regarding reverse mortgages and other financing alternatives. The focus is on low-income senior homeowners and their immediate family members, and significant others. At a high level, and in general, a Reverse Mortgage allows older homeowners to convert their home equity into cash. They can also still reside in the home.
Homeseeking is referrals and free information to those seeking affordable or low income housing. It operates in Contra Costa and Alameda County. Get information on shelters, transitional housing programs and other resources.
Fair and Safe Housing Counseling includes site investigations, research and enforcement (if needed) in response to reports of unsafe housing or discrimination. ECHO will help resolve any issues that may arise.
Assistance for homebuyers, in particular first time owners, is for Alameda County residents. This is offered from the HUD approved agency. Counselors can answer questions on financing, the home selection process, and provide other advice.
There are several ECHO offices in the area. Staff and housing counselors are ready to help those that qualify. The main offices are as follows.
Hayward Office, 510-581-9380
Contra Costa County Office, 855-275-3246
Oakland has two numbers. Call 510-496-0496 or 510-271-7931
Palo Alto Office, dial 408-730-8491 or 650-327-1718
There is also an office in Berkeley.
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