Formerly the California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund, the California Housing Defense Fund’s core mission is to make lasting impacts to improve the affordability and accessibility of housing to current and future Californians, especially low- and moderate-income people and communities of color.

CalHDF uses legal advocacy and education to ensure all cities comply with their own zoning and state housing laws and do their part to help solve the state’s housing shortage.

In addition to housing impact litigation, we provide free legal aid, education and workshops, counseling and advocacy to advocates, homeowners, small developers, and city and state government officials.

We are CalHDF 

Dylan Casey

Dylan Casey

Executive Director

Dylan Casey moved to Oakland to join CalHDF in early 2017. Dylan’s work at CalHDF has focused on ensuring local compliance with state housing law, including the Housing Accountability Act and Accessory Dwelling Unit Law. Before joining CalHDF, Dylan worked as a land use lawyer for New York City government since graduating law school from New York University in 2012. Dylan worked on permitting the public review process for individual developments, neighborhood rezonings, and helped develop the city’s inclusionary housing program first at the Department of City Planning and later at the New York City Council.

Courtney Welch

Courtney Welch

Director of External Affairs

Courtney Welch is an East Bay native, experienced civic leader, proud mother of two, and member of the Emeryville City Council. Previously, she was the Director of Policy and Communications with the Bay Area Community Land Trust, (BACLT) where she helped create permanently affordable housing through cooperatively-run land stewardship projects. Prior to BACLT, Courtney was a Continuum of Care Specialist with EveryOne Home, working to end homelessness in Alameda County. In 2015, she founded Courtney Consulting Agency, a virtual assistant firm dedicated to assisting minority-owned startups and small businesses with administrative and operations needs. 

Nick Eckenwiler

Nick Eckenwiler

Legal Fellow

Nick moved to Oakland in the spring of 2022 and joined CalHDF that fall. Before then, he worked as an eviction defense attorney at the Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn, New York.  Now that he is back in the Bay Area, he is excited to help tackle California’s housing crisis and enforce state housing laws.  In his free time, he enjoys reading, writing fiction, and rock climbing.  Nick has a BA in mathematics and political science from Yale University and a JD from Stanford Law School.

Moorea Benmosche

Marketing & Communications Intern

Moorea is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley; she received her BA in urban studies with a minor in public policy in the spring of 2023. Her interest in housing stems from her upbringing in Los Angeles. Moorea was the Chair of UC Berkeley’s ASUC Housing Commission which works to address student housing needs amidst the Bay Area housing crisis. She’s passionate about making housing policy more accessible to communities who have historically been excluded from decision-making processes.

Cecilia Lunaparra

Planning & Research Intern

Cecilia is a fourth-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley pursuing a degree in Urban Studies and a minor in History. Throughout her time at Berkeley, she has advocated for housing, transportation, and tenant justice at the local level and has facilitated student-city governmental relationships. She currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Environment and Climate Commission and as the President of Telegraph for People, an urban advocacy student group. Cecilia is passionate about addressing the state’s housing crisis after witnessing it firsthand, and looks forward to working towards enforcing California’s robust housing legislation.

Jobs + Internships 

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Board of Directors

Kate Downing

Attorney at Law Offices of Kate Downing

Alex Gourse

Associate at Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP

Stephen Menendian

 Assistant Director and Director of Research at UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute

Luis Villa

Co-Founder and General Counsel at Tidelift


Supported by you

CalHDF relies on individual donations and membership subscriptions from regular people like you.

There is no California statewide agency charged with enforcing the laws like we do, which makes our work all the more valuable.

Donate to CalHDF and help us restore a legal environment in which California builds housing equal to its needs.