The news brought to me by Richmond Councilmember and California Assembly District 15 Candidate Jovanka Beckles was horrifying: 92-Year-Old Lela Madison was locked out of her home she has owned since 1960. The organization responsible for the action, according to Mrs. Madison in the Facebook live video, is called Community Fund LLC, and it seems the firm does this as standard practice.
Community Fund LLC is located at 1032 E 14th St, San Leandro, California, and its San Leandro Chamber of Commerce webpage directly says what it’s all about: “Real Estate/ Residential & Commercial , Property Management, Foreclosures, Short Sales, & Investments. 2 offices to serve you 3577 Fruitvale Ave, Oakland, CA 94602 (510) 530-1005.” In the area of “Foreclosures, Short Sales” Community Fund LLC has gained some local fame for how it treats elderly black women. And in 2015, it’s boss, Michael Marr, CEO of Community Fund, LLC, was convicted in a Federal court for bid rigging at foreclosure auctions. Mr. Marr was sentenced to 30 months in prison, March 21, 2018.
Anti-Eviction Map reports “Because most of the properties that Marr acquired are single family homes, they do not fall under rent control per Costa Hawkins (the anti-rent control law which would be removed with the passage of the California Affordable Housing Act this November 2018 election). Widespread displacement of long time residents through rent increases has been the modus operandi for Marr and other foreclosure speculators in the east bay. Unknown numbers of families have left their homes, while some resisted. Senate Bill AB1506 would address the problem, but is stalled in the State Senate under the power of the landlord lobby.”
Note the sentence: “Widespread displacement of long time residents through rent increases has been the modus operandi for Marr and other foreclosure speculators in the east bay.” Many of those residents are black, so now we see one reason for the dramatic drop in the African American population in Oakland.
Lela Madison is just the latest elderly black woman to lose her home to Community Fund LLC, which, from research, has a kind of pipeline connection with Wells Fargo Bank: Wells Fargo Bank forecloses on a mortgage loan of a home, and Community Fund LLC buys it. But, from media accounts, Community Fund LLC seems to have this pattern of praying on homes owned by elderly African Americans in the East Bay Area.
Another woman who was victim of Community Fund LLC practices was Dorothy DeBose, who is described by the Oakland Post as “a 76-year-old, life-long East Oakland resident.” She fits the pattern of prey by the shark that is Community Fund LLC. In March of 2017, Dorothy DeBose was facing eviction by Community Fund LLC, said to be Alameda County’s largest land owner, and after living at 6521 Bancroft Avenue for over 50 years. A Go-Fund-Me page was set up for her and an anonymous donor stepped forward to help her buy back her home.
In a similar fashion, Councilmember Beckles has set up a Go-Fund-Me page for Lela Madison. That page is here. Right now, it’s reached $3,356 of its $10,000 goal as of this writing. But what about changing the law so this doesn’t happen?
Senate Bill AB1506 calls for residential, rather than just apartment, rent control, and closes a loophole that allows housing to escape rent control laws in California. Assemblymembers David Chiu, Rob Bonta, and Richard Bloom wrote the bill. According to “Legislative Info” the bill was filed out of committee under what is called “Joint Rule 56”. In other words, the bill died in committee.
What’s needed is a very simple initiative that says you can’t evict anyone who’s at or older than 85 years old. That would stop these horror stories. I can tell you from personal experience helping my Mom, that the elderly are targets for bad insurance sales people, unethical real estate brokers, shady home contractors, and predatory lenders. The elderly are put on calls lists for all kinds of products and more often than not don’t know how the company got their number. That should be illegal, just like evicting anyone at or older than 85. Lela Madison is 92.
I don’t know what the latest news on Lela Madison is, as she could not get back into her home. I hope that situation is changed and soon.
Also, as Councilmember Beckles is running for the California Assembly District 15 Seat, and her staff has made sure to mention her involvement in getting the word out about Lela Madison’s plight, Ms. Beckles should enlist the help of her challenger Buffy Wicks. Then, Beckles avoids being accused of politicizing an elderly woman’s problem, and since some accuse Wicks of getting “outside money”, maybe they can get Wick’s help to find donors to allow Lela Madison buy her home.
That’s real government at work and doing good for a person, and forgetting a political battle, to come to the aide of someone who really needs it: Lela Madison.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media