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Celebrate National Take a Walk in the Park Day

March 30th is National Take a Walk in the Park Day. With the arrival of spring and warmer weather, now is the perfect time to get out for a walk in the park.

Benefits of Walking

People of ages can benefit from going for a walk. One recent study found that walking briskly for at least eleven minutes a day significantly lowered the walkers’ mortality and risk for cancer and heart disease. If you, like many seniors, have osteoarthritis, walking regularly can actually make your pain less frequent and slow damage to your joints.  For those of us with lower back pain, walking has been shown to relieve lower back pain. Walking briskly for a half hour, five days a week over the long term, can also improve memory and cognitive functioning in older adults. Brisk walking counts as walking that gets your heart rate up a little. The exercise should feel a little more challenging and you should feel a little short of breath.

In addition to improving physical wellbeing, walking can also improve mental health. If you feel trapped in a downward spiral of worry and anxiety, taking a walk can help you feel better and improve your mood. By walking, you can disrupt the cycle of negative thoughts circling around your head and refocus your attention on the positive aspects of your walk, the scenery, and your surroundings. (more…)

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Great Ready for Spring Cleaning

As winter fades and spring approaches, many of us may be planning to engage in that time honored ritual, spring cleaning. While any time of year can be a good time to clean, spring is a good time to organize all that clutter you accumulated during the dark winter months. We’re here to give tips for cleaning and talk about why cleaning is important.

Why Do Spring Cleaning

Research has shown that there is a link between messiness and diminished mental health. Poor mental health can cause some persons to accumulate clutter. One explanation for this is that mental and physical fatigue can sap a person’s energy to clean and maintain their home. This lack of cleaning allows clutter to build up and become overwhelming, making that person’s mental state even worse.

Mess in one’s home can add to a person’s feeling of being overwhelmed, anxious, stressed, and ashamed. All of this can make someone feel even worse than they already do. If you find yourself in this situation, recognize that cleaning and getting rid of clutter can actually improve your mood. While cleaning may not cure your depression, you might find that you feel a bit better having cleaned your living space.


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Seniors and Homelessness

Seniors who are on fixed incomes are increasingly having trouble keeping pace with the rising bay area rents. While there are legal protections in place, these are often not enough to keep our seniors housed. According to Cal Matters, as of 2021, California accounts for about a third of the nation’s homeless people, and among this population, seniors are estimated to be the fastest-growing group.

Whether it is an annual rent increase that exceeds their income or a lease term they inadvertently violated, Contra Costa County seniors are increasingly having to maneuver the world of evictions. Knowing the rules as well as the responsibilities and protections is key to ensuring that seniors can get through, what can be a terrifying time.

The following are some of the most common scenarios that a senior m

ay face with respect to remaining housed.

  • I am a senior who received a large rent increase. Is this legal?

Tenants who are living in properties that are subject to the Tenant Protection Act are protected from receiving a rent increase of more than 5% + the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 10%, whichever is lower.

Tenants who are living in subsidized or low-income properties are limited to rent increases that are in compliance with their agreements. Those living in Section 8 properties can receive rent increases that keep their rent at roughly 30% of their income.

Tenants who may receive rent increases over 10% are entitled to 90 days-notice before the increase goes into effect. (more…)

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Bird Watching

There are many benefits to start bird watching today.  Bird watching gets you outside and provides you with a deeper connection to nature.  Bird watching is also quite a simple hobby to get involved in.  Simplicity also means that bird watching is relatively low cost, after the one time purchase of a decent set of binoculars.1  Bird watching or also called birding can be done anytime and anywhere.  Birding also has a social component.  You can join birding groups and make new friends as you start your birding journey.

Bird watching is good for your mental and physical health too.2 By getting you outside, birding gets you moving and exercise is a good benefit for both mental and physical health.  Additionally, birding helps boost memory and cognitive skills, thus further providing benefits for your mental health.

You can start bird watching today in Contra Costa County.  Click here for Mt. Diablo Audubon Society’s bird guide of birds you can find in Contra Costa County.  Click here for a list of different birds found in the county alongside pictures.

Once you start bird watching, always remember to bring water and snacks on your walks.3 Also make sure to wear comfortable clothing and apply sunscreen.  You can also start bird watching from home.  Once you start to pay attention to your surroundings, you can begin to notice the different birds that are in your backyard.




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Get Up to Speed on California’s Composting Law

In 2021, California passed a law requiring Californians to separate organic, or “green,” waste, from other trash and recycling. The purpose of this law is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep organic waste, such as food waste, out of landfills. While this law took effect in 2022, many Californians are unfamiliar with the law’s requirements. We’re here to help you understand this law.

What Does the Law Say?

All businesses and residents of California are now required to separate their waste. Residents must separate out organic waste and recyclable materials from other trash. This requirement applies to businesses, multifamily housing complexes such as apartment buildings, and single-family residences. What this law essentially requires is that people compost.

Multifamily complexes must provide a cart for tenants to dispose of organic waste, such as food waste or landscaping debris, such as leaves or cut grass. The owners of such housing complexes are supposed to give their tenants information on recycling and composting each year, and when a new tenant moves in or an old tenant moves out. Your city, or county, is required to offer organic waste collection to you. (more…)

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Real Estate Fraud Part 2: Rental Scams

Renting an apartment can be challenging, especially here in the Bay Area where housing is expensive. Unfortunately, the experience of finding a rental is made even more difficult by the presence of rental scams. As with many other aspects of life, scammers have found ways to part unsuspecting renters from their money. We’re here to educate you about common rental scams and provide tips on how to protect yourself.

There are different types of rental scams. Often, these scams involve properties being listed for rent on the internet by scammers who do not own the properties or don’t have the authority to rent the property out. Scammers often list properties on websites like Zillow, Craigslist, or Facebook. This scam can take different forms.

  • Knockoff listings: Beware of knockoff rental listings on websites like Craigslist. Scammers can copy and paste the information from a legitimate rental listing and repost that information under a fake listing, often offered for a super low price. The scammer’s goal is to steal your first and last month’s rent and deposit.
  • Illegal sublets: With this scam, the scammer shows the property but doesn’t have the authority to rent it out. Again, with this scam, the scammer wants to steal your first and last month’s rent and your deposit.
  • Ghost rentals: A ghost rental is a property that doesn’t exist. The scammers lure the victim to pay money in exchange for promises of low rent and great amenities. Typically, the scammers will pressure the victim to send money quick in order to hold the property.

These scammers will forego the typical formalities of renting a property, such as the application or credit check. The renter may show up to the scheduled walk through of the property or to go pick up the key only to realize they’ve been scammed. The supposed landlord or property manager is a no-show and/or the property doesn’t exist, and the renter has lost everything they’ve paid. Often, the scammers ask that the money be sent via cash, wire transfer, or online transfer through a platform such as Pay Pal, Zelle, or Venmo. Note that similar scams also occur with vacation rentals, so be cautious in renting a property for a vacation. (more…)

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Real Estate Fraud Part 1: Homeowner Scams

For many homeowners, their home is their most valuable asset. This makes it imperative that homeowners protect this asset from real estate fraudsters. Real estate fraud is fraud committed in the connection with the buying, sale, rental, or financing of real estate. This type of fraud can be criminal or civil and affects renters and property owners. While anyone can be a victim of real estate fraud, real estate fraudsters often target seniors and economically vulnerable members of our community. Luckily, you can protect yourself by educating yourself about common types of real estate fraud. This blog post is part of a two-part series, with part one focusing on homeowner scams and part two focusing on renter scams.

There are many ways that scammers go after homeowners. The following are common fraud schemes and scams that target homeowners, though this list is by no means exhaustive.

Foreclosure “Rescue” Scam

In this scam, the scammers pose as foreclosure consultants, employees of a loan modification company, or some other similar title. These scammers target homeowners whose homes are in default due to too many missed mortgage payments (generally 3 missed payments will put you in default). Often, the homeowners are not able to refinance their mortgage due to poor credit or because the home is “upside down,” meaning the homeowner owes more money than the home is worth.

The scammers use public records to find you and contact you, making various claims, such as: they can help save your home, cure the default, or get your loan refinanced. Often the scammer will demand quick action, an up-front payment, or interest in your property as “collateral” or “security.” The fraudster may attempt to purchase your home before the foreclosure at a fraction of the property’s value. With this scam, the homeowner typically relies on the scammers’ promise of help and the homeowner takes no action to preserve their home. The fraudster will offer little to no real assistance and you end up losing your home to foreclosure.

Real Property Recordation Fraud

With this type of fraud, the fraudster creates a fake promissory note that shows that the homeowner owes money to the fraudster. The fraudster will forge and record a Deed of Trust that secures the promissory note. The homeowner may never know that this deed was recorded.

Reverse Mortgage Scams

This scam targets older homeowners who have accrued a significant amount of equity in their property. The perpetrator of the scam may be a loved one, caregiver, or a financial advisor who pressures the senior to take out a reverse mortgage. The scammer will claim that the money should be used for various things, such as an “investment,” as a gift, used to buy a car, or used to pay for “care.” Anyone thinking about taking out a reverse mortgage should consider the fact that reverse mortgages often have high closing costs and fees. You should also take into account the fact that the homeowner must continue to pay property taxes, homeowners insurance, HOA dues, and must maintain the home. If the elder loses the home to foreclosure, the scammer may take the loan proceeds.

Title Scam/Rent Skimming

With this scam, someone claiming to be a foreclosure consultant contacts a homeowner whose home is in foreclosure and offers to take over your mortgage and home title in exchange for a loan or quick cash. Often, the person claiming to be a consultant will promise that they have good credit and that they can take advantage of this good credit to refinance your loan and save your home for you. The homeowner is required to “temporarily” deed the home to the consultant and pay rent in order to live in the home while the consultant obtains financing. The fraudster may fail to apply the homeowners’ rent payments towards the mortgage and the house can be foreclosed on, with the homeowner losing both the house and the rent payments made to the consultant.

Know Your Rights

California has laws regulating practices by foreclosure consultants. According to state law, the following are illegal practices:

  • Charge up-front payments
  • Charge excessive fees
  • Wage assignment (securing payment by making the homeowner sign their wages to a consultant)
  • Use your property as security, take a lien on the property, and acquire an interest in the property
  • Take secret payments from third parties
  • Require the homeowner to set up a Durable Power of Attorney and designate the consultant as the homeowners’ agent
  • Operate without a written contact
  • Pressure the homeowner to sign a contract that does not comply with California law or waive their rights

Recognize the Signs of Fraud

You can protect your home by learning to spot the signs of homeowner fraud. Such signs include the following:

  • You receive official documents for a transfer of your property, but you have no knowledge of this transaction or transfer
  • You don’t receive your property tax bill
  • You receive monthly documents for strange, unfamiliar loans
  • You receive unsolicited communications about default or foreclosure, and you are pressured to act fast, pay cash, pay up front, or sign a contract quickly without reading it or seeking advice
  • Someone guarantees that they can stop a foreclosure or modify a loan
  • Someone advises you to stop making your mortgage payments and to give your payments to them instead
  • Someone always meets with you in public places or your home, and doesn’t seem to have a real office

Remember, if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is!

Tips to Protect Yourself

There are many things you can do to protect yourself. If someone offers unsolicited advice and assistance, do your research before accepting that offer. Ask detailed questions and always make sure that you read and understand any documents you sign. Don’t pay up front and don’t pay cash or wire transfer. Using cash or wire transfer as payment methods is favored by scammers because money sent this way is hard to trace. If someone tries to do work for you without a written contact, this is a red flag, and you should slow down and be cautious. Don’t give personal or financial information out online or on the phone.

Where to Report Fraud

You can report scams by calling local law enforcement. In addition, report real estate fraud to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit and fill out a complaint form.

Learn More:

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Community Warning System

Due to recent extreme weather conditions, it might be a good time to sign up for Contra Costa County’s Emergency Alert System, if you have not done so already.

You can click here to register online to receive an alert.  The registration asks for your email, phone number, first and last name, address, and creation of a password.

The community warning system can alert residents within Contra Costa County that are affected by an emergency or will be in danger of being affected by an emergency.  The message alert will include a message about what the emergency is and if the resident needs to take any action, for example, avoid the area.

You can check out more information regarding the Community Warning System here.


Sistema de Alerta Comunitaria

Debido a condiciones extremas del clima recientemente, podría ser una buena idea para inscribirse para el Sistema de Alerta de Emergencia del Condado de Contra Costa, si no lo ha hecho todavía.

Puede presionar aquí para registrarse en línea para recibir una alerta.  La registración pregunta por su correo electrónico, primer y segundo nombre, dirección, y creación de una contraseña.

El sistema de alerta comunitaria puede alertar a residentes del Condado de Contra Costa que están afectados por una emergencia o si están peligro de ser afectados por una emergencia.  Este mensaje de alerta incluirá un mensaje acerca de que es la emergencia y si el residente necesita tomar una acción, por ejemplo, evitar el área.

Puede consultar más información sobre el Sistema de Alerta Comunitaria aquí.

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Contact Us

2702 Clayton Rd.
Suite 202

Concord, CA 94519
(925) 609-7900

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.