On Friday, Feb. 22, about 30 supporters went to court with Mr. Leonard Powell, who has been on the verge of losing his family home after the City of Berkeley brought in code inspectors and a receiver who ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary renovations.
Mr. Powell is a senior, veteran and retired postal worker who has been a member of the South Berkeley community for 45 years. It is where he has raised all of his children and the place that he calls home. He has owned his home outright for over 25 years.
The Berkeley City Attorney and assistant city attorney, the appointed receiver and his lawyer, Powell and his lawyer and loan broker all went into chambers to meet with Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Brand in Hayward.
After one-and-a-half hours they returned to the courtroom, where it was announced that there would be two phone conferences and then they would return to court March 11.
The judge felt that the discussions were constructive and that the goal was to get Mr. Powell back into his home. It was also indicated that on top of the $571,000 in a VA loan, he would need an additional $68,000.
Since that time the debt has continued to increase. Mr. Powell, his lawyer and his broker have tried to get a cap put on the increasing costs.
The judge keeps approving additional fees passed on by the Receiver to Mr. Powell. He and his supporters are hoping the costs will not exceed $88,000.
A GoFundMe campaign, begun by Friends of Adeline for Mr. Powell, was tweeted by stand-up comic and television host W. Kamau Bell. Over 1,670 people have contributed, and over $80,000 has so far been raised.
The deadline for this campaign is now March 20. and the goal is $88,000. People locally and all over the country have recognized the injustice here and have responded.
Mr. Powell told the Oakland Post he has no problem paying for repairs to his home that are fair but not the extensive renovations “installed to garner top dollar in the event of a sale by the Receiver.”
To contribute, go to gf.me/u/ q2zrn6
Gene Turitz is a member of Friends of Adeline in Berkeley.