Oakland low income housing may close

July 3, 2008 6:55:30 PM PDT
Dozens of disabled Oakland residents could find themselves homeless in the next two weeks if the California Hotel closes. You may have seen it right next to Interstate 580. It's one of several affordable housing projects run by a nonprofit company that the city says can no longer maintain its projects.

"I am the working poor and I am collateral damage," says tenant Duane Anderson.

Low income housing tenants say they fear becoming homeless in a few weeks as the California hotel is set to close down.

On Thursday, 51 of the 75 current tenants filed a complaint in court.

"I have been told on the 15th, the water, the electricity, the garbage services, the gas will all be shut off. A fence will be put up and I will be forbidden to enter the building. I haven't received an eviction notice. I haven't been evicted. I've been intimidated and threatened that you have to move," says Anderson.

"These people are all physically and medically disabled and five are in wheelchairs and they have nowhere to go," says tenants attorney John Murcko.

A spokesperson for Oakland Community Housing Incorporated, a nonprofit housing developer named in the lawsuit, told ABC7 News that they are not able to comment. The situation is changing quickly.

Officials with the City of Oakland were unavailable to comment today, citing the unusual circumstances this case poses. The deputy director of Housing and Community Development told ABC7 News:

"There are city ordinances to protect tenants that do apply, but we don't know what happens when an owner closes shop and walks away, which is the potential situation we could find ourselves in come the 15th of July."

The city is offering tenants first month's rent and a security deposit on another place.

"The waiting list on low income housing is a year, two years and section 8 is three years. There's nowhere for these people to go. We're going to court to get an injunction to stop this," says Murcko.

"There's no place to go because there are no openings for low income housing or nothing like that," says Mickey Martin.

An attorney for the tenants says effective July 1st, they are paying their rent to a trustee and that money will enable these tenants to run the hotel themselves and pay utilities come July 15. They intend to stay put.


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