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Property Owner Asks Homeless Moms To Leave Vacant Oakland House

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- In a new twist to the ongoing battle over a vacant West Oakland house that was taken over by two homeless mothers last month, the house's owners said on Monday that they want the women to leave so they can use the property to help disadvantaged local young people.

The real estate investment firm Wedgewood said it is partnering with the Los Angeles-based nonprofit Shelter 37 to provide training and job opportunities to at-risk Oakland residents and potentially sell the property at 2928 Magnolia St. to a first-time homebuyer.

The women, who call themselves Moms 4 Housing, moved into the house without permission on Nov. 18 to call attention to Oakland's homelessness crisis and to vacant, investor-owned homes in the city. Wedgwood has served an eviction notice on the women and a court hearing on the matter is scheduled for Dec. 30.

Shelter 37 founder James Washington, a former pro football player who was a member of two Super Bowl champion teams, said in a statement, "I encourage Mothers 4 Housing to voluntarily leave the property as quickly as possible so that we can train disadvantaged Oakland youths, give them jobs and teach them skills."

Washington said Shelter 37 has a long-term relationship with Wedgewood chief executive Greg Geiser that "allows us to share in the profits when the home is sold, so we can use the funds to continue to help at-risk youth."

"We all feel for these individuals and the hardships they are facing, but no one can condone theft," Washington said.

He said he is offering to provide free transportation of the women's belongings to another location. Washington said he hopes the women leave the house soon so Shelter 37 and Wedgewood can get to work to provide education and training to needy Oakland youths who will learn new skills renovating the property.

In a Twitter post, Moms 4 Housing posted a letter that they said was from Washington to them. The letter reads, "I ask that you vacate the home that you have wrongly stolen and illegally occupied so that my nonprofit can help young people get new skills, job training, and rise up and become important contributing citizens to the Oakland community."

Wedgwood spokesman Sam Singer said Shelter 37's typical customers are first-time homebuyers.

"Wedgewood is helping first-time homebuyers by fixing distressed properties and bring them back to life as well as helping this wonderful nonprofit, Shelter 37, that is devoted to helping inner city youth," Singer said.

He said Shelter 37 was founded in 1993 as a nonprofit, public benefit corporation that provides effective life skills, job training and educational programs to youths in Southern California.

Moms 4 Housing said they will hold a Christmas Eve press conference Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Magnolia Street residence. They said Oakland councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and Nikki Fortunato Bas will be in attendance.

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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