Omar Barraza is a bilingual attorney dedicated to helping real people, consumers, and small business owners defend their rights, protect their loved ones.
Omar is a passionate advocate for equity and social justice with nearly twenty years of experience working in affordable housing, government, and civil rights agencies prior to becoming an attorney. Omar is a founding board member of A Touch of Love Foundation, an all-volunteer international relief agency that provides essential services to those in need, particularly children, in India, Ghana, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic. His community involvement includes previous service on the boards of the Tenants Union of Washington State and the Alliance of People with DisAbilities.
Omar's civil rights career was inspired by his volunteer internship with the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, in Washington, DC. While at DOJ, Omar received training in DOJ's groundbreaking fair housing testing program in which "secret shoppers" visit housing communities to gather information that is used to help measure the incidence of housing discrimination. In 2006, Omar trained Jesse Jones of Seattle's King 5 News to conduct testing of local apartment complexes. The results of those visits became a news story about housing discrimination in the Seattle area.
Omar put his DOJ experience to work for the Inland Fair Housing and Mediation Board in California where he drafted the agency's first successful HUD fair housing testing grant. Working with HUD, Omar established a testing program to investigate sales and rental discrimination complaints in San Bernardino, Riverside, and eastern Los Angeles counties.
Omar came to Washington in 1995 as one of the first employees of the Fair Housing Center of Washington and was instrumental in implementing western Washington's first continuous fair housing testing program. As an employee of the Fair Housing Center, Omar conducted housing discrimination investigations in rental, sales and mortgage transactions and coordinated with federal, state and local fair housing administrative enforcement agencies to process, investigate and resolve referred fair housing complaints. He also served as lead author of the Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice report for the State of Washington, Thurston County, and the cities of Olympia, Bellingham, and Everett, Washington. Omar also contributed to the drafting of reports for King County and the cities of Seattle, Kent, Auburn and Bremerton, Washington.
Omar's public service experience includes supervising and managing affordable housing programs for the Seattle Housing Authority and coordinating epidemiological research on adolescent depression at the University of Washington. Most recently, Omar has been employed at the King County Office of Civil Rights conducting fair housing investigations and conducting civil rights education for consumers and housing providers.
Omar earned a Bachelor of Arts in Government/Public Policy Analysis from Pomona College in California and a Master's degree in Public Administration from Seattle University. In December of 2010, Omar graduated cum laude from the Seattle University School of Law. Omar and his partner live in West Seattle where they enjoy indulging their four dogs.