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Indybay Feature
Moms 4 Housing Push Back Against PR Move by Wedgewood and LA Nonprofit Shelter 37
by Dave Id
Thursday Dec 26th, 2019 8:35 PM
On Christmas Eve, Moms for Housing held a press conference to respond to a public relations ploy by Wedgewood LLC — using affiliated Los Angeles nonprofit Shelter 37 to attempt to soften the company's image as it seeks to evict them. Oakland councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas and representatives for council members Rebecca Kaplan and Dan Kalb spoke on behalf of the moms.
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[Inside mom's house at 2928 Magnolia Street in West Oakland. Pictured left to right: Carroll Fife, Leah Simon-Weisberg, Nikki Fortunato Bas, Shereena Thomas, and Dominique Walker]


Shelter 37 is a small Los Angeles-based nonprofit founded by former NFL player James Washington in 1993. One of Shelter 37's primary activities appears to be organizing golf tournaments.

The organization has no staff and only three board members, including Wedgewood CEO Greg Geiser, who bragged that flipping houses in the “distressed market” is “hot and sexy.”

In it's 26 years of operation, Shelter 37 has never had a presence in the San Francisco Bay Area, but now that Moms4Housing has made a vacant Wedgewood house their home, it disengenously claims it wants to expand to Oakland to help "struggling youths" through some sort of short term job training program at the house.

Part of the public relations ruse is that Wedgewood supposedly agreed to share profits with the nonprofit after the house is successfully flipped. Being that Shelter 37's total budget was only $128,000 in 2017, any substantial share of the proceeds from a market rate sale would represent a significant boost in revenue.

Despite the Shelter 37 intrusion into the dispute over the West Oakland property being a rather transparent ploy intended to soften the optics of Wedgewood evicting otherwise homeless mothers and their children — carried out under threat of force by armed Alameda County Sheriff's deputies — corporate media largely reported these specious claims at face value.

Some news outlets didn't bother to mention the Shelter 37/Greg Geiser nexus or question the sincerity of Shelter 37's newfound interest in Oakland's "struggling youths," even though James Washington flew to the Bay Area to participate in a "small news conference in a private room at Oliveto restaurant in Oakland" along with Sam Singer, Wedgewood's public relations hired gun, who has no qualms about using racist dog whistles as he attacks the moms.

Other outlets did quote Washington at the press conference admitting that "Shelter 37 has had a long term relationship with Wedgewood," although it's unclear why any news outlet would describe Shelter 37 as a "leading at-risk youth group."

Sam Singer was obviously pleased with the news coverage he was able to generate and sent out a link.

And so, the day after Shelter 37 pushed itself forward as a pawn in Wedgewood's game, Moms for Housing held a press conference in their living room to push back against the company's deceptive attempt to give their eviction a happy face.



Moms 4 Housing Temporarily Block Eviction
https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/12/26/18829214.php

Moms 4 Housing Respond to Eviction Notice from Wedgewood
https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/12/26/18829201.php

Indybay feature:
Unhoused Mothers Make Vacant House a Home
https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/11/19/18828259.php

Moms 4 Housing
https://moms4housing.org
§Full audio of December 24 press conference
by Dave Id Thursday Dec 26th, 2019 8:35 PM
Listen now:
Copy the code below to embed this audio into a web page:
(audio 23:59)

Video from outside after press conference below.
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Councilmember Kaplan sent a letter to Wedgewood on December 23 urging mediation.
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Read the letter from Oakland Community Land Trust to Wedgewood below.
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Carroll says Wedgewood and Greg Geiser own hundreds and hundreds of properties in the East Bay, and asks if they don't want to sell this house on Magnolia Street, where are some other properties they can open up. If Wedgewood really cared about Oakland, why would they bring in a Los Angeles nonprofit to rehab just one home as a supposed jobs training program?

https://www.acceaction.org
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“I claim right to possession of this home because housing is a human right,” Dominique Walker wrote in a legal filing in Alameda County Superior Court. On December 16, the court granted temporary reprieve from the scheduled December 17 eviction. It was supposed to be 15 days until the hearing.
Copy the code below to embed this movie into a web page:
(video 9:13)
§Fists up — Power to the moms
by Dave Id Thursday Dec 26th, 2019 8:35 PM
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§Moms4Housing press release for Christmas Eve press conference
by Dave Id Thursday Dec 26th, 2019 8:35 PM
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 23, 2019
CONTACT: info [at] moms4housing.org
ADVISORY: Moms 4 Housing Responds to Letter from Wedgewood Inc. & Press Conference

Oakland, Calif —- On November 18th, a group of mothers without shelter reclaimed possession of a vacant, investor-owned property in West Oakland. On December 3rd they received an eviction notice from Wedgewood Inc., one of the country's biggest "fix & flip" corporations that has profited significantly from the housing crisis.

On December 16th, Moms4Housing filed a "third party claim of right to possession". The claim delayed the eviction for 15 days and a hearing date is now tentatively scheduled for December 30, 2019. Westwood Inc. has ignored multiple requests to negotiate with Moms4Housing and has refused to speak with the members of this organized collective of mothers who have offered to purchase the Magnolia St. home.

Today, on Monday, December 23rd, Moms4Housing and ACCE received a letter from Public Relations firm Singer Associates, Inc. on behalf of James Washington, the founder of Shelter 37. Shelter 37 is a non-profit that claims to "improve the overall well being of children and young adults whose lives have been affected or disrupted by crime, violence, or abandonment and as a result, are more at-risk of turning to gangs, crime, drugs, or becoming withdrawn, antisocial, or socially inept." In the letter attached below, Shelter 37 and Wedgewood Inc. offer to pay for the removal of the mothers' belongings and demands the families leave the premises. As stated in the letter, once the mothers return to the streets and are forced to survive the winter months without shelter, Wedgewood will proceed with their plans to flip the property for above market rates and split the proceeds with the non-profit for which Wedgewood CEO Greg Geiser is a board member.

Moms4Housing condemns Greg Geiser's woefully manipulative use of Shelter 37. "I will not allow my organization to be pit against another Black-led nonprofit so that a corporation with revenue streams of over $500 million can skirt public accountability for their role in gentrification and displacement." says Carroll Fife, Director of ACCE Oakland. "If Greg Geiser were truly committed as a board member to Shelter 37's mission, he would support the efforts of Moms4Housing to purchase the home, thereby ensuring that their children are protected from the potential long term challenges caused by youth homelessness."

In response, Moms4Housing is calling on all community supporters and members of the media to come to 2928 Magnolia St. on December 24th for a press conference where local elected officials will speak to potential resolutions of this David and Goliath saga. The mothers will speak to Wedgewood lnc.'s inauthentic and insidious attempt to bribe a third party and force families onto the streets this holiday season.

WHAT: Christmas Eve Press Conference
WHERE : 2928 Magnolia St, Oakland
WHEN : Tuesday, December 24th, beginning at 10 a.m.
WHO : Moms for Housing, Oakland Council President Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland Councilmember Nikki Fortunado Bas, statements from elected officials labor allies and community supporters
WHY : Because there are four vacant homes in Oakland for every person without a home.

###
§Insulting letter from Shelter 37 to Moms4Housing
by Dave Id Thursday Dec 26th, 2019 8:35 PM
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23 December 2019

Dear Mothers for Housing/ACCE:

I write to request that you immediately vacate the 2928 Magnolia St., property that you broke into and are illegally occupying.

I am the founder of SHELTER 37. Since our founding in 1993, we seek to improve the overall well-being of children and young adults whose lives have been affected or disrupted by crime, violence, or abandonment, and, as a result, are more at-risk of turning to gangs, crime, drugs, or becoming withdrawn, antisocial, or socially inept.

I have a signed agreement with Wedgewood Properties to restore the company's Magnolia Street home using local youths, giving them real life job training experience, assisting in their careers, and paying them money. Equally important, I have agreement to split the profits from the sale of this home so that SHELTER 37 can use additional funds to help other struggling youths.

I ask that you vacate the home that you have wrongly stolen and illegally occupied so that my non-profit can help young people get new skills, job training, and rise up and become important contributing citizens to the Oakland community. Wedgewood will pay for the removal and transportation of your belongings to assist you.

Sincerely,
James Washington
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December 18, 2019

Mr. Gregory Geiser
President and CEO Wedgewood
2015 Manhattan Beach Blvd Redondo Beach, California 90278

Dear Mr. Geiser:

The Oakland Community Land Trust (OakCLT) is pleased to connect with you to indicate our interest in purchasing the property owned by your company at 2928 Magnolia Street in Oakland, California.

OakCLT is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to combating community deterioration and expanding sustainable housing and economic development opportunities for low-income residents of Oakland. Much like open space and conservation land trusts, our community land trust stewards land in Oakland for the public good forever.W e steward land for essential community needs, such as affordable housing, open space, community and urban agriculture, nonprofit facilities, and more.

We view your property as a unique opportunity for OakCLT and the broader community. Once the home becomes a part of the Oakland Community Land Trust, it will continue to serve low-income families in perpetuity. OakCLT will always own the land under the home, but will facilitate sustainable and affordable ownership opportunities for generation upon generation of low-income families.

OakCLT currently stewards land under dozens of similar single-family homes throughout Oakland in partnership with our homeowner families. Our program has created safe, sustainable asset building opportunities for these families.

Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Steve King - Executive Director Oakland Community Land Trust
https://oakclt.org
§Rebecca Kaplan letter to Wedgewood
by Dave Id Thursday Dec 26th, 2019 8:35 PM
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December 23, 2019

Greg Geiser, CEO
WedgeWood Properties
2015 Manhattan Beach Blvd
Redondo Beach, CA 90278

Dear Mr. Geiser,

I am writing to you regarding a group of homeless mothers who are now living at your 2928 Magnolia Street property which was previously vacant. As you know, the issue of vacant homes in Oakland is of deep concern for many constituents and in 2018, Measure W, the Vacant Property Tax, passed with over 70% of Oakland voters support because we are acing an unprecedent housing crisis where homelessness has grown 47% since 2017.

As the Oakland City Council President, I'd like to urge a mediation between the parties, designed to find a mutually acceptable path forward, as efficiently as possible.

This situation can be turned from strife into an opportunity for Wedgewood and the local Oakland community to work together to resolve this matter. For example, the Oakland Community Land Trust ("OakCLT") is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to combating community deterioration and expanding sustainable housing and economic development opportunities for low-income residents of Oakland and they are interested in working with you. They have successfully secured city and private funds to enable first time home buyers, tenants, and others to create community land trusts. Once a home becomes a part of the OakCLT, it will continue to serve low-income families in perpetuity. This may be a viable solution for all the parties, as OakCLT could buy it from you.

We encourage working with our local community partners to find an amicable solution. Please do not hesitate to contact Bobbi Lopez at my office at (510) 238-7082 with additional questions or follow up.

Sincerely
Rebecca Kaplan
City of Oakland, Council President
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December 17, 2019

To Whom It May Concern,

Alameda County is experiencing an unprecedented housing crisis which has taken a particularly devastating toll on communities of color and the working poor.

My office recently became aware of Moms4Housing, and has been monitoring the situation as it has developed. I respect the rights of Wedgewood LLC, as the property owner, while recognizing that it is also heartbreaking to see mothers with young children facing eviction to the streets, especially during the holiday season.

That is why I support neutral mediation between the parties, designed to find a mutually acceptable path forward, as efficiently as possible.

It is my understanding that Assemblymember Rob Bonta has offered his office for these purposes. I have worked closely with Assemblymember Bonta on many occasions and support his offer of assistance.

Please do not hesitate to contact my office at (510) 272-6694 with additional questions or follow up.

Sincerely,
NATE MILEY
Alameda County Supervisor, Fourth District
§Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson letter to Wedgewood
by Dave Id Thursday Dec 26th, 2019 8:35 PM
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December 21st, 2019

ATTN: Wedgewood LLC and Moms 4 Housing

To Whom It May Concern,

The current state of housing in the Bay Area and Oakland is causing significant harm to communities of color and the strength of our region overall. I hope to see us work together to get to a better state of ommunity. My district includes Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont, one third of Oakland and pecific to this situation, West Oakland.

Recently my office became aware of Moms 4 Housing. I understand the rights of Wedgewood LLC as property owners, while I also recognize the devastating impact the housing crisis is currently having on our most housing-insecure residents. We know that our community only thrives when all residents have access to stable housing and a place in this inclusive economy.

I encourage Moms 4 Housing and Wedgewood LLC representatives to meet in good faith, in order to negotiate a mutually acceptable resolution for both patties.

I understand that Assemblymember Rob Bonta has offered his assistance for these purposes. I continue to be in conversation with Assemblymember Bonta and support his offer to potentially organize a convening.

Please feel free to reach out to our office at (510) 272-6695 at any time with questions or follow up.

Thank you for your consideration on this important matter.

Sincerely,
Keith Carson, Vice President
Supervisor, Fifth District
§Sam Singer reply to Keith Carson
by Dave Id Thursday Dec 26th, 2019 8:35 PM
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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
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Peas in a pod or partners in crime? Sam Singer and James Washingtonhousing is a human rightThursday Dec 26th, 2019 11:37 PM
Public Need Must Come Before Private GreedEminent Domain NowThursday Dec 26th, 2019 9:55 PM
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