An eviction stopped in Oakland

By Alessandro Tinonga

OAKLAND, Calif.--After two dozen activists prepared to prevent the eviction of Eddie and Martha Daniels from their home here, Citibank and the Alameda County Sheriff's Department backed down and granted the Daniels an extended stay.

Eddie and Martha have lived as renters in their West Oakland home for over three years. Both are on disability and have been serving their community for years working for homeless shelters.

After their landlord lost the house last July, the Daniels wanted to stay and asked the bank if they could buy the house. The bank agreed to let them make the purchase, but during negotiations, Citibank's real estate broker told them they would have to surrender their rights under Oakland's Just Cause Eviction Ordinance, which gives tenants the right to stay in their homes if the landlord is foreclosed upon.

"We are in negotiations with Bank of America to get a loan to buy the house," explained Martha Daniels. "The broker told us we had to leave. We appealed to the court to get a 15-day stay and borrowed $750 from our friends. Then the judge dismissed, our motion saying that we didn't give 24 hours notice [for a stay]. We made the motion two days ago."

The Daniels decided to fight back. ACORN members, neighbors and friends gathered on February 4 to stop the eviction. "They are good neighbors and always helpful," said Khalil Louis, who lives nearby. "We need to help them, because they would do the same for us."

That morning, the sheriff and the bank announced they wouldn't evict the family and would allow them a stay to get their loan in order.

Oakland has the country's 10th-highest foreclosure rate for a metropolitan area. The top two are also in California: Stockton and Riverside-San Bernardino. More than 2.3 million homes were lost in 2008, while banks got billions of dollars in government bailout.

ACORN has launched a national initiative to resist home foreclosure and evictions. The "Homesteading Campaign" is due to begin this month in more than a half-dozen cities around the country. ACORN members and home defender teams will support families who refuse to leave their homes.

Commenting on the campaign, Eddie Daniels said, "This shows that people want change to happen. If we continue to stand up, maybe we can make a difference. Now is the time to come together. When a person is getting evicted, we have to stop it."

As more people face a situation like Eddie and Martha Daniels did, opposition to foreclosures will become an important part of working-class resistance to the economic crisis.