“I am not leaving”

root - Posted on 07 November 2000

Evicted Oakland tenants and organizers rally for JustCause eviction legislation

by Tiny

The tall shade trees swept down, almost touching the tops of cars and sides of houses, the street was short, lined with clapboard houses with an occasional apartment building looking out of place. I never liked this street when I lived here because I never felt like I belonged. From the first day my mother and I moved in, we were told by the landlord that he wanted to get more for this place - I nodded in agreement, like I understood, like I agreed, empathized in fact, about his plight as a short changed apartment owner, getting a bad lot in life - but as we spoke, I tried desperately to cover the terror in my eyes with a cheerful glaze of excitement at all he'd done for the place and how much I admired his efforts. I tried to keep my voice light and extract all possible traces of the screams and tears that proceeded that one Wednesday afternoon in July when we begged that apartment owner for a chance.

We had looked at over thirty places and found absolutely nothing, we had called apartment after apartment but if we did find something we were summarily rejected because of an eviction on our credit record for a previous place we had that had attempted to fight . No, he could not know how much we needed that place and who we really were….

Yesterday I was there again, two years on that street, on 36th street, near Telegraph in Oakland. My body shook with the lingering terror of that day and the days to follow - the second eviction, the second fight, the threats of violence from the landlord, the never ending danger. But it wasn't mine alone anymore….

"I lived in this apartment for 11 years, I was a good tenant “ Oakland resident Ron Curry was talking to me on the sidewalk outside of one of those bright white clapboard houses on 36th street, he continued, “ I raised three children as a single parent in that house, my son asked the realtor why they were evicting us, she said the landlord wanted to paint the place and raise the rent – they evicted all five families - and now when I look for an apartment, there are six people in line trying to get the same place- or I am turned down due to this eviction which appears on my record” As he spoke – members of JustCause Oakland stood near – holding signs about eviction and profit.

“People are being evicted from their houses for no reason at all- this is the only city in the Bay Area that allows tenants to be evicted for no reason” a spokesperson for Just Cause Oakland –was outlining the current situation for Oakland renters.

“What if you can’t find a place-will you give up and leave the Bay Area?” I nervously asked Mr. Curry, hoping the answer would be no

“I’m not giving up – I am going to fight- and I am not leaving the Bay Area”
I nodded, slivers of the last ten years of my life - eviction on top of Oakland eviction circled above the trees and through the wood panels and landed on that narrow messy street in the form of resistance- we could fight and we would. That’s why my mother and I are still alive – because we never stopped fighting – and we didn’t leave!

To get involved in the resistance against the eviction of low income people, communities of color and elders in Oakland call Just Cause at (510) 464-1011 or email them at: justcauseoaklnd@yahoo.com


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