Just Cause Oakland and St. Peter’s Housing Committee to Merge

Thursday, October 8, 2009
Bay Area Indymedia

It is said that those who share a common direction and sense of unity
can get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are
traveling on the thrust of one another. Motivated by the desire to
build a more powerful grassroots force for justice, we have decided to
merge with our sister organization in San Francisco, St. Peter’s
Housing Committee, and create a bigger, fiercer organization. After 10
years of collaborative work with St. Peter’s, we have witnessed and
been impressed by the powerful organizing and tenant advocacy St.
Peter’s conducts with Latinos in the Mission District and across San
Francisco.

We are inspired by a shared vision of deepening
solidarity between African-American and Latino communities in San
Francisco and Oakland, and contributing to the development of a vibrant
grassroots movement.

Our two organizations have had a close
relationship for years, as we have developed housing,
anti-gentrification and community development related campaigns in our
prospective cities. We have engaged in numerous joint discussions about
our models, approaches and political analysis of the problems in our
communities. Our members have participated in joint actions, and have
interacted at conferences, meetings and other venues where we have done
work in common. Finally, both organizations are active members of the
Right to the City Alliance, a growing network of urban justice
organizations, primarily combating gentrification. While we are not
entering into this merger because of financial necessity, we understand
that the economic crisis is bringing many organizations to the brink of
bankruptcy.

Just Cause and St. Peter’s have weathered the
storm well but we feel it is an excellent time to be merging, because
we will become a stronger more efficient organization and will be able
to navigate the changing economy even better as a larger, regional
organization. These times are also marked by tremendous political
opportunity. The entire economic model that runs this country is in
question, and many significant political reforms are possible. By
joining forces, we feel confident that we will be able to take
advantage of the moment to advance bigger changes, and win more
resources and power for the communities we work with in Oakland and San
Francisco. Don't worry, our organizing in Oakland will continue to grow
and we will not be changing our core areas of work or how we organize.

There are many decisions still to be made around the merger – not least
of which will be our new name! But we have time. We are working hard
with our members, staff and board to move the process forward with the
goal of beginning an initial transition on January 1, 2010.

You may have seen some news coverage of the police raid that took place
at 2755 74th Ave. on Friday Sept. 25th--this is the same building where
the shoot out with Lovelle Mixon happened a few months back. SWAT
Police, Sheriffs Deputies, and OPD Officers were looking for a suspect
who lived in the building and proceeded to knock down the doors on all
the apartment units, spray teargas, and detain some of the tenants. The
suspect was not in the building and the police were told that multiple
times prior to the raid. In the aftermath, important aspects of the
story were left out of the media, namely, the residents and their fight
to get stable, affordable housing for their families. This is also an
example of a foreclosed property owned by a bank that has not properly
maintained the building.

Just Cause Oakland and St. Peters
Housing Committee have been working with families from the building who
have come together in this stressful time to assert their rights and to
fight for the justice that they deserve in this matter. Due to public
pressure and tenant advocacy, the tenants living at 2755 74th Avenue in
East Oakland will be placed in a motel for three weeks, paid for by
Tamalpais Bank (the property owner).

Tamalpais Bank’s CEO
Mark Garwood felt that it was a moral obligation to help these
residents and has committed to repairing the preexisting damage to the
property due to lack of upkeep. The bank will forgive any unpaid rent
and waive the termination fee as well as refund their security
deposits. The bank has also hired independent contractors that are
addressing the issues that are being raised (tear gas damage, hazardous
clean-up, repairs, etc.).

That's the good news, but many of
the families are traumatized by the events that have occurred there
this past year. It was 6 months ago when Lovelle Mixon had the shootout
with police at that building. At that time, one of the residents, who
now has a 2 week old infant, was pregnant with twins and lost one of
them due to the stress of that event and the continued lack of safety
and security and uninhabitability at the building. Prior to the raid,
the building was in great disrepair and had not been properly
maintained by Tamalpais bank since they took ownership in July '09.
There were numerous habitability issues including water leaks, roof
damage, mold, and other heath risks and safety hazards.

We
will continue to advocate with the tenants to make sure the bank, the
police, and the city do the right thing. Please respond to this message
if you want to help us fight for Tenant Justice!


FAIR USE NOTICE. This document may contain copyrighted material the use of which may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Tenants Together is making this article available on our website in an effort to advance the understanding of tenant rights issues in California. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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