No Public Housing Evictions!


root - Posted on 31 December 1969

Superior Court Blocks Public Housing Evictions

by Lynda Carson

In a stunning reversal of numerous unlawful evictions,
during the week of May 15, Superior Court Judge
Winifred Y. Smith issued 2 rulings that blocked the
evictions of Oakland's public housing tenants from
Lockwood Gardens, a Hope Vl project.

"We are encouraged by the rulings of the court, and
are pleased that the court recognizes that the
families facing eviction by the Oakland Housing
Authority are not unlawful occupants," said Jorge
Aguilar of the Eviction Defense Center. "We further
believe that these same rulings will also have a
positive effect on all the other families still facing
eviction under similiar circumstances."

The community was shocked recently to learn of fraud
and corruption at the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA),
when it was revealed that 34 families facing eviction
from Lockwood Gardens were actually scammed out of
their security deposits by Caroline Wilson, an
employee of the Housing Authority who had later fled
the state with the stolen cash.

During late April 2006, the Oakland Housing Authority
(OHA) claimed that at least 34 families facing
eviction from Lockwood Gardens were unlawful occupants
(squatters) who have illegally gained possession of
their housing units. OHA officials moved to evict and
served them 30-day, forcible-detainer eviction notices
in an effort to remove them from their housing.

"I was terrified recently when the OHA Police showed

up at my door around 10 p.m. at night, accusing my
family of committing fraud to move into this
townhouse; and they served me a five-day notice to
surrender my home to the OHA, or else," said Ms.
Kelly, a tenant facing eviction from Lockwood Gardens.

According to David Lipsetz a Senior Policy Analyst at
the OHA, he said, "The tenants worked with a former
clerk to gain access to the units. The OHA does not
have any files on the families, and the OHA does not
believe that any of the families signed a lease before
moving into those units. Forcible detainers are
standard procedure for those that have illegally moved
into the OHA's public housing units."

Despite the claims by the OHA that the families are
unlawful occupants who must be evicted, the Superior
Court of Alameda County believes other-wise, and have
blocked the unlawful evictions from taking place.

According to the rulings issued by Superior Court
Judge Smith, "on the basis of the facts pleaded and
judicially noticeable, defendant's entered the
property with consent and a claim for forcible
detainer will not lie."

Judge Smith's ruling blocked the evictions because the
facts did not show that the families gained possession
of their rental units illegally as the OHA had
originally claimed, but instead have shown that the
"Exihibit to the Complaint indicates that Plaintiff
permitted Defendant to enter property."

In addition, based upon documents submitted to the
hearing, the court is convinced that the Housing
Authority accepted rent payments from the families
that are being accused of moving into their rental
housing units illegally.

However in the same ruling issued by Judge Smith, the
judge bent over backwords to allow the Housing
Authority to amend their complaint against the
families if possible, and said, "The court having
considered the pleadings, briefing and arguments
submitted in support of and in opposition to the
demurrer, and good cause appearing, it is hereby
ORDERED that the demurrer is SUSTAINED WITH LEAVE TO
AMEND to permit Plaintiff to allege, if possible,
allegations sufficient to support a cause of action
for forcible detainer or any other cognizable cause of
action against this Defendant."

Jorge Aguilar of the Eviction Defense Center believes
that the OHA is in no position to amend their
complaint to evict the families, but believes that
they may have to try a new approach and start all over
again with Unlawful Detainers, or to seek an Action
for Ejectment which may take a year or more to go
through the courts.

"The court's rulings further re-enforces our clients
position that the wrong doing was done on the part of
the Housing Authority. At this point we hope that the
Housing Authority will re-consider it's position and
allow the families to remain in their housing. It's
possible that the OHA may seek an Action for Ejectment
or file an Unlawful Detainer against the families, but
we hope that they know better than to try that," said
Aguilar.

Winou Wakeyo had her eviction blocked by the court,
and in response said, "Thank GOD! GOD is my best
friend in this country. All my life, I have believed
in GOD. In America, this government is very good for
refugees. As a refugee, your all alone. No one sees
you, and no one hears you. For a while I slept in a
store like a homeless person. I think GOD helped me
through this. I thank the courts and this government
for helping me out and I am very grateful."

This whole controversy of mass evictions became
apparent, after many families seeking legal help to
fight their evictions contacted some local law firms
for assistance. The families claimed that they were
being accused of moving into their public housing
units illegally by the Oakland Housing Authority, but
believed that they had not done anything wrong, and
were being unfairly evicted.

A meeting was held on March 20 at the East Bay
Community Law Center for all the families facing
eviction. When the tenants started sharing what had
occurred to them, most of the families involved
suddenly realized that Carolyn Wilson of the OHA had
stolen their security deposits, and skipped out of
town.

Upon hearing of the courts move to block some of the
evictions occurring at Lockwood Gardens, another
tenant claimed that she was ecstatic, hoped that the
Housing Authority will not try to evict again, and
said that she wanted to move forward with her life.

Currently, out of the 34 families facing eviction, the
Eviction Defense Center along with attorney Bob
Salinas, of Sundeen Salinas & Pyle, is representing
nine families in court, and attorney's Laura Lane and
Marc Janowitz of the East Bay Community Law Center are
representing 12 families.

As more of the eviction cases continue to move forward
through the courts, the attorneys representing the
families facing eviction hope that the Superior Court
of Alameda County will continue to block the Housing
Authority's attempts to make these families homeless.

Lynda Carson may be reached at; tenantsrule@yahoo.com

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