Disabled Homeowner Defies Eviction

Wilson’s neck was broken twice, at a McClymonds midnight basketball game and in a robbery; his  Backyard Scholarship Program sent  over 50 youth to  college

By Tanya Dennis

Post writer/activist Tanya Dennis assists Bay Area foreclosure victims like Leonard Wilson. Photo by Adam L. Turner.

This Oakland Post writer and disabled homeowner Leonard Wilson are reaching out to let Bay Area communities know that a growing number of people are fighting to keep their homes in the face of foreclosures. Banking institutions find it easy to ignore one voice but difficult to ignore a message when it is repeated by many.  
We are asking the public to call Attorney General Kamala Harris to request she intervene in Mr. Wilson’s behalf.
Mr. Wilson, disabled as a result of a spinal cord injury, is beloved by many in the Oakland community for his Backyard Scholarship program that has helped over 50 young people attend college.  Last Tuesday, he gained national attention when we blocked the Alameda Sheriff’s attempt to evict him from his home of 26 years.  
Wilson in 1994 was a successful singer who had his own band and had just signed a contract with Sony. One night, while he was working as a leader of midnight basketball for youth at McClymonds High School, a shot was fired. In the resulting pandemonium, a girl fell on Wilson, breaking his neck and leaving him paralyzed form the chest down and ending his singing career.
In 2001, his neck was broken again when he was robbed outside his home. It took three major brain surgeries for him to recover.
Mr. Wilson is still in his home, at least temporarily, with the aid of this writer who is a “Home Defender,” along with Occupy Oakland Stephanie Demos, who is assisting with various strategies to stall for time until a hearing today in Superior Court.  
“I’m not feeling sorry for myself, I’m mad and I’m not going anywhere,” Mr. Wilson said.  “ If they’re going to put me out, then they’re going to have to lift me and my wheelchair up out of this home and place me on the sidewalk.”
Wilson said he now has no place to go. “At the beginning of last year I had a 790 credit score, now these people have messed me up so bad I can’t even qualify for an apartment.”
We are hoping the judge will halt the eviction until Mr. Wilson’s complaint against American Home Mortgage and HMC Opportunity Fund can be heard.  Next week, a forensic loan audit will be completed that we are expecting will verify that Wilson’s bank and HMC Opportunity Fund committed illegal acts.  
So far, Mr. Wilson hasn’t received much help from the courts. Judge Judith Ford lifted his temporary restraining order last September, ruling in favor of the banks to “protect the lender’s interest” when Mr. Wilson could not post an $80,000 bond.  
Mr. Wilson has written to Attorney General Kamala Harris, who on Dec. 6 promised to investigate and prosecute any criminal activity she discovers in regards to illegal banking practices.  
Mr. Wilson is requesting people contact Harris at 916-324-5435, her Senior Counsel Michael A. Troncoso   Michael.troncoso@doj.ca.gov and Benjamin Diehl, Deputy Attorney General, at 213-897-5548 or 213-897-2000, Benjamin.diehl@doj.ca.gov, and his assistant, Edwina Roan-Tuyay at edwina.roantuyay@doj.ca.gov. Ask them to initiate an immediate investigation regarding identity theft, fraud and misrepresentation that have placed Mr. Wilson on the brink of homelessness.  
Send letters to the State of California, Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, 1300 I Street, 17th Floor, Sacramento 95814.
There will be a fundraiser for Mr. Wilson’s defense, with live jazz, raffle and dinner on Sunday, January 15 at Smiling Jack Station in San Leandro. For information call Arnita Calloway at 510-451-5245.


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