Merry Xmas Mortimer! Oakland Elders Defeat Landlord in US Supreme Court!

Tiny - Posted on 13 December 2011

It is my heartfelt pleasure this holiday season to be the bearer of bad news (like POOR Magazine poverty scholar "Bad News Bruce") to the propertied class--landlords, gentrification agents and their officious appendages of all ages, sizes, occupations and individual degrees of delusion.  The bad news comes via the US Supreme Court who ruled in favor of elders living in Section 8 housing in Oakland’s Park Village Apartments—elders who were issued eviction notices.  The bad news in this article is directed towards Park Village owner Mortimer (Can I call you "Mo?) Howard and for the other Mo’ Howard’s of the world.  Let the bad news keep coming!


The tenants are an inspiration to a community of mothers, daughters, babies, folks with disabilities and folks of color who are under the constant threat of gentrification, police violence and intentional blighting of their communities.  It is the place where the media portrays black and brown youth as criminals while, at the same time, portraying agents of the state like Johannes Mehserle as just an honest guy with a lapse of concentration as he failed to differentiate between his gun and taser.


The good news is that a group of section 8 tenants—mostly elders—united and thwarted the attempts of the owner to evict them after he opted out of the section 8 program.  The US Supreme Court upheld an earlier decision that asserted that an owner who opts out of the section 8 program—refusing vouchers—may not evict tenants for non-payment of rent.  


In the case of Mortimer Howard Trust vs. Park Village Apartments, the court upheld its February ruling that denied the owner’s request to evict the tenants in order to derive higher rents from new tenants. 


In 2005, after their last government contract expired, the owner sought to leave the section 8 program.  The request was approved in 2008, whereupon the owner rejected the rental assistance agreements of 15 tenants and filed eviction paperwork.  US District Judge Sandra Brown blocked the evictions in January 2010—which was upheld by the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.


The court said that owners have the right to disassociate from section 8, however, a 2000 federal law gives tenants the right to remain in their units—providing they pay their rent consistently and not give landlords legitimate reason to evict them.


The elders of the Park Village Apartment tenants Association are heroes, to be respected and honored.  Their resistance to the egregious debasement directed towards them on the part of the landlord was in the spirit of the I-Hotel, where Filipino, Chinese and African Descended elders stood their ground against eviction and displacement before a world stage on the corner of Jackson and Kearny Streets in San Francisco in 1977.  In that spirit they organized and engendered the help of the National Housing Law Project and Bay Area Legal Aid. 


As the people chanted 30 years ago: Long Live the I-Hotel!  We now chant: Long Live the Park Village Tenants Association! 


Merry Xmas Mortimer!


God is good.







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