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National Hobby Month

Did you know that January is National Hobby Month? Everyone should have a hobby. Whether it’s gardening, birdwatching, or even something as simple as reading, it’s important to have an activity that you enjoy doing. As adults, it’s easy to become so focused on work and family that we let the hobbies we enjoyed as children fall to the wayside. Once you retire and your children are grown however, you might find that once again, you have more time for hobbies.

It is never too late to take up a new pastime or try something new. Retirement is actually the perfect time to pick up a new hobby. Many hobbies are perfect for older adults and can provide seniors with a number of benefits. From social interaction, to physical exercise, to mental stimulation, to pure enjoyment, hobbies can help you lead a healthier, and more satisfying life.

There are many hobbies that older adults can enjoy. These include solo hobbies or hobbies that you do with friends, such as:

  • Bird watching
  • Gardening
  • Reading
  • Puzzles
  • Baking or cooking
  • Sewing
  • Dancing
  • Golf or other sports
  • Hiking
  • Knitting
  • Crossword puzzles

 

Taking on a new hobby can improve your well-being. Picking up a hobby can be a good way of connecting with others, and helping combat isolation or depression. Research has shown that participating in social activities can help people live longer. Depending on your hobby, having a new activity that you enjoy, such as yoga, can also help you maintain an active lifestyle. Both physical and mental activities can help older adults stay healthy.

Use this month to try something new and find others with whom you can share your hobby. While Covid-19 can make it hard to socialize, engaging in outdoor or virtual activities can help you stay safe. For inspiration, click here to check out this New York Times guide to “Choosing the Right Hobby”. For tips on finding hobbies for older adults, click here.

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Top 5 Blog Posts of 2021

new year

As we welcome 2022 and turn the page on last year, we thought you might enjoy seeing the top 5 blog posts from 2021. There may be one you missed or the info could be more relevant to you now.

Top 5 Posts:

5) Understanding Prop 19s Impact on Older Homeowners

4) How I Nearly Fell for a Publisher’s Clearing House Scam

3) Emergency Broadband Benefit

2) Geek Squad Support Scam Email

1) Are You Still Awaiting Your 3rd Stimulus Payment?

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Notice of Upcoming 3G Cellular Network Shutdowns in 2022

Cell phone carriers are planning to shut down 3G Networks to make room for updated network services, including 5G. Read an announcement from the FCC about the phase out here. If you have an older cell phone, you may be unable to make or receive calls or texts when the update happens. Older cell phones will also lose the ability to call 911. Cell phones affected are 3G cells and some 4G cell phones that do not support Voice over LTE.

While network shutdowns will vary by company, some are set to begin shutdowns as early as January 1, 2022. Check in with your cell provider to learn more.

These upgrades may also affect other devices like tablets, smart watches, car SOS services, some medical devices, home security systems, and other products that may use 3G.

Contact your provider if you are in need of an upgrade. Some companies are offering deals on new devices. The FCC’s Lifeline program and the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit program may also be able assist eligible consumers with phone or internet services.

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Contra Costa Senior Legal Services Hosts In-Person Legal Clinics

Contra Costa Senior Legal Services has resumed hosting free in-person legal clinics at a number of locations around Contra Costa County. Our clinics are open to all residents of Contra Costa County who are age 60 and older. Legal clinics include our Consult an Attorney Clinics and our Wills Clinics. Consult an Attorney Clinics provide services in the following areas of law:

  1. Housing/eviction issues
  2. Elder abuse (financial, physical, or emotional)
  3. Consumer law/consumer debt issues
  4. Small claims issues
  5. Durable Powers of Attorney
  6. Advance Health Care Directives

 

Wills Clinics provide participants with simple wills. Please note that our Wills Clinics do not handle trusts. Wills Clinics have eligibility requirements, and you will be screened for eligibility when you call to enroll in the clinics. All Consult an Attorney and Wills Clinics are by appointment only. Call Contra Costa Senior Legal Services at (925) 609-7900 to learn more. We are in the process of adding additional clinics around Contra Costa County, so check back with us for updates.

Consult an Attorney Clinics

We have Consult an Attorney Clinics at the following locations (listed in alphabetical order by city):

Antioch

When: Second Monday of Each Month from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Where: Antioch Senior Center, 415 W 2nd Street, Antioch, CA 94509.

Call (925) 778-1158 to sign up.

Brentwood

When: Last Thursday of each month from 9:30 am to 11:30 am.

Where: Brentwood Senior Center, 193 Griffith Lane, Brentwood, CA 94513

Call (925) 519-5380 to sign up.

Martinez

When: First Friday of each month from 2 pm to 4 pm.

Where: Martinez Senior Center, 818 Green Street, Martinez, CA 94553.

Call (925) 370-8770 to sign up.

Pleasant Hill

When: First Tuesday of each month from 9am to 11:30 am.

Where: Pleasant Hill Senior Center, 233 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523.

Call (925) 798-8788 to sign up.

San Ramon

When: Third Wednesday of each month from 2 pm to 4 pm.

Where: Alcosta Senior and Community Center, 9300 Alcosta Boulevard, San Ramon, CA 94583.

Call (925) 973-3250 to sign up.

Walnut Creek

When: Second Wednesday of each month from 9:30 am to 11:30 am.

Where: Civic Park Community Center, 1375 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.

Call (925) 609-7900 to sign up.

 

Wills Clinics

We have Wills Clinics at the following locations (listed in alphabetical order by city):

Antioch

When: Third Monday of each month from 10 am to 12 pm.

Where: Antioch Senior Center, 415 W 2nd Street, Antioch, CA 94509.

Call (925) 778-1158 to sign up.

Martinez

When: Last Thursday of each month from 2 pm to 4 pm.

Where: Martinez Senior Center, 818 Green Street, Martinez, CA 94553.

Call (925) 370-8770 to sign up.

Walnut Creek

When: First Monday of each month from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm.

Where: Civic Park Community Center, 1375 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.

Call (925) 472-8000 to sign up.

Please check our website for additional virtual clinics happening in other cities across the county.

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How Protect Your Security Deposit

If you are a renter, you’ve probably given your landlord a hefty sum of money as a security deposit. For those of you who are concerned about whether your landlord will return this money at the end of your tenancy, you’re not alone. Security deposits are one of the most common things that landlords and tenants fight about. The good news is that there are steps you can take to increase the likelihood that your landlord will return your deposit to you.

Before You Move In

Before you move into a new rental unit, you should ask the landlord to perform an initial inspection of the unit. You and your landlord should take note of any damage to the unit. It can be a good idea to take photos of any problems you find during this inspection so that you can prove that those problems existed before you moved into the unit. It is helpful if the photos are date stamped, so you can show when you took the photo. A rental agreement may not state that your security deposit is nonrefundable.

Before You Move Out: The Initial Inspection

Before you move out an apartment, you should ask your landlord to perform another inspection of your unit. If you make this request, your landlord is required to arrange a time to inspect the unit. You should make this request at least two weeks before you are due to move out of the unit. You have the right to be present at this inspection. Your landlord cannot inspect your unit unless you request one, making it imperative that you be proactive and make this request. This inspection is important because it will prevent your landlord from charging you for additional, unidentified repairs later on.

Your landlord must give you 48-hours advance notice in writing of the time and date of the inspection. Unless you have withdrawn your request for the inspection, your landlord may enter the unit to conduct the inspection at the time and date specified in the written notice whether you are home or not. Even if you cannot be present at the time of the inspection, it is still important to request that your landlord conduct this inspection.

The Itemized Statement

After inspecting your unit, your landlord is required to leave you an itemized statement that lists any damages or other conditions that could result in deductions from your security deposit. The purpose of this is to give you time to correct and repair any damages or poor conditions before you move out. By correcting or repairing damages, you can help ensure that your landlord will not withhold a portion of your deposit for these problems. In general, your landlord may only make deductions for conditions or damages that are listed in this itemized statement. The exception to this rule is if the conditions were not visible at the time of the inspection or if they occurred after the inspection. You should always take before and after photos of any problems noted on the inspection statement.

When Can Your Landlord Deduct Funds from Your Security Deposit?

The itemized statement your landlord gives you after their initial inspection of your unit must also contain language about the lawful reasons to deduct from or withhold security deposits. You should review your rental agreement for any specific expectations or requirements about the state of your unit when you move out.

Unlawful deductions include:

  • Deduction simply because you lived in the unit
  • Normal wear and tear, such as a carpet worn by ordinary use.
  • Conditions that existed when you moved in.
  • Your landlord may not automatically deduct the cost of a full cleaning of the unit unless the unit is less clean when you move out than it was when you moved in.
  • Your landlord is not permitted to automatically deduct a charge for new paint.

Lawful deductions include:

  • To cover unpaid rent
  • Cleaning the rental unit, but only to make it as clean as it was when your moved in. In these circumstances, you may be charged a reasonable cleaning fee.
  • Damages like chipped counters or carpet stains that you or your guests caused
  • Flea infestation
  • Mildew
  • Nail holes
  • If the rental agreement permits, your landlord may deduct for the cost of restoring or replacing furniture, furnishings, or other items of personal property, such as keys. This is only allowed for damage beyond normal wear and tear.

After You Move: The 21-Day Deadline

When you return your keys, make sure to give your landlord your new mailing address. Your previous landlord has 21 days after your tenancy ends to refund whatever portion of your security deposit you are owed. If you landlord withholds any of your deposit, they must also provide you with an itemized statement listing any deductions from your security despot and the reason for the deduction. If the deductions are worth more than $125, the landlord must also send you any invoices or receipts for cleaning or work that was done or an estimate of any repairs that will take longer to finish. If 21 days passes and your landlord does not give you an itemized statement of deductions, your landlord cannot withhold money from your deposit and must return your entire deposit.

What Can You Do If Your Deductions Seem Unreasonable?

If your landlord has not complied with the requirements discussed above or you feel your security deposit refund is less than it should be, what can you do? You can start by writing a letter to your landlord explaining why you believe that any deductions were improper. You should provide documentation, such as photographs or receipts, to support your assertions. You can refer your landlord to the security deposit rules in California Civil Code § 1950.5 and ask for a refund of the specific amount you feel you are owed. Be firm, but polite and send the letter by certified mail or get proof of mailing.

If your landlord disputes your claims, you can seek legal assistance. If you are 60 and older and live in Contra Costa County, Contra Costa Senior Legal Services may be able to assist you. Ultimately, you have the option of suing your landlord in small claims court. If you win your case in small claims court, a judge may order your landlord to refund some or all of your security deposit and may order that your landlord pay for your legal costs and a penalty.

Conclusion

If you understand your rights and are prepared, you can be in a better position to protect your security deposit. To help protect your deposit, remember to do the following:

  1. Request that your landlord inspect your unit before you move in and at least two weeks before you move out
  2. Take good notes
  3. Take photos of the condition of the unit when you move in and when you are preparing to move out
  4. Keep your receipts

 

For more information on security deposit rules, click here..

 

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Food Programs in Contra Costa County

As the holidays arrive and you start to plan your holiday feasts, it is important to remember that many families struggle to get enough food to eat. In Contra Costa County, approximately one in six people is food insecure. More than fifty percent of adults living in low-income households in the County don’t have enough food. This means that one in six county residents has a hard time finding their next meal and does not have access to healthy nutritious food that they can afford.

Food insecurity harms our community because not having enough nutritious food negatively impacts a person’s ability to remain healthy and be successful in work and school. For those who don’t have enough food to eat, Contra Costa County has a number of programs to help you.

Senior Nutrition Program

The Senior Nutrition Program provides nutritious meals to Contra Costa County residents age 60 and up. The meals are served daily at locations around the county. For those who are homebound, Meals on Wheels will deliver a meal directly to your home. For more information about the Senior Nutrition Program, call (925) 313-6310.

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels brings meals to seniors who cannot drive, who are homebound, who cannot prepare their own food, and who do not have a caregiver who is paid to prepare food. Eligibility for this program is based on need. There are no income eligibility requirements and a person can be eligible regardless of income. Meals on Wheels delivers food to participants’ homes Monday through Friday. Click here for a list of phone numbers to call to learn more about Meals on Wheels programs in Contra Costa County.

Senior Food Program

The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano has a Senior Food Program. Under this program, low-income seniors who are age 55 and older can receive free groceries twice a month. There are eligibility requirements for this program. Click here to learn more about the food bank and their programs.

CC Cafés

CC Cafés are operated around the county to provide nutritious meals to adults age 60 and older. These meals are free. Many senior centers and other community centers host a CC Café. Reservations are required for café goers. Click here to view café locations around the county and obtain contact information for each café location.

Other Resources

211: if you are hungry and need food now, call 211 or click here to learn about where you can get food and to learn how to apply for CalFresh. CalFresh is California’s food program.

Click here to learn more about other food assistance programs.

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Update to Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Update to Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) made updates to the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act on November 30, 2021.

The updates include changes to how debt collectors can contact consumers.

With this update debt collectors can call consumers 7 times or 1 conversation per week for one debt.  This means that consumers who have multiple debts may receive many calls.

Unfortunately, there is no limit to the amount of texts or emails a debt collector can send.  But messages received in this manner must include instructions on how to opt out from receiving such messages in the future.  Click here to learn how to opt out from communication with debt collectors.

Debt collectors can also send messages through consumers’ social media accounts.

Debt collectors have a limited amount of time to collects on debts.  Once that time expires, they are prohibited from suing or making threats that they will sue you for debts that have already passed the statute of limitations.

If you have any further questions regarding these updates or a debt collection question, please give us a call.

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Giving Tuesday Request

 

Great news, as the pandemic recedes, Contra Costa Senior Legal Services staff are meeting with clients in person in our offices again!

For this Giving Tuesday, we hope to raise $800 to purchase a new hydration station. This hands free water dispenser will allow us to offer clean water to clients in a more ecologically friendly way. Not only will we avoid sharing germs, it will allow us to decrease our carbon footprint by reducing our reliance on plastic water bottles.

To make a donation, click here.

glass of water

 

 

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Contact Us

2702 Clayton Rd.
Suite 202

Concord, CA 94519
(925) 609-7900
legalhelp@ccsls.org

Events Calendar

For our upcoming events, check out our calendar.

Our Mission

The mission of CCSLS is to protect the rights of seniors. By providing legal services, the organization is also able to mediate poverty and improve health outcomes for the population it serves. Lawyers are uniquely qualified to help identify and address legal issues that impede the ability of seniors to remain healthy and independent.