West Oakland unites to keep Black families in their homes!

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by Anya Svanoe

Oakland – A Black West Oakland family is set to be forcefully thrown out of their home in days by NationStar Bank. ACCE Home Defenders League member Annette Miller and her family have lived in their home at 682 30th St. in West Oakland for the last 60 years and are among the oldest Black homeowners in a quickly gentrifying West Oakland.

Dozens of justice seekers rallied Friday night to save the home of Annette Miller, her children and her father, James Johnson, promising to lock arms and physically protect the home if the bank tries to forcefully remove them, as it has threatened to do next week.
Dozens of justice seekers rallied Friday night to save the home of Annette Miller, her children and her father, James Johnson, promising to lock arms and physically protect the home if the bank tries to forcefully remove them, as it has threatened to do this week or next.

But that all may change early next week as NationStar plans to continue the big banks’ campaign to remove Black families from West Oakland. But now West Oakland is fighting back. On Friday, Jan. 30, dozens of community members rallied at the home to stop her imminent eviction and demand that NationStar sell her back the home they stole from her at a market value price.

Neighbor after neighbor joined the family in committing to lock arms and physically protect the home if the bank tries to forcefully remove them. “My family has lived here for 60 years, and my father served this country for 22 as a Purple Heart veteran. We paid our mortgage in full and on time until they began to reject our payments.

“Even though we could absolutely afford it, NationStar refused to take my father’s Veteran’s Assistance loan and keep us in our home. They would rather kick us out like the thousands of other Black families we’ve seen leave our neighborhood. This is our home. This is our life. We shall not be moved,” Annette said.

The family, composed of Annette, her children and her elderly father, James Johnson, never missed a payment on their mortgage even after several unexpected deaths in their family. However, due to a clerical error, NationStar suddenly rejected seven years of mortgage payments and sold the house from under their family at an auction. Prior to the sale, the Millers attempted to repurchase the home for $315,000 more than the final auction price, but NationStar denied their bid.

Now they are threatening to send armed sheriffs to the house to forcefully remove Annette, her elderly father and her children. “They seem hell-bent on getting all Black families out of our neighborhood,” Annette said. “It doesn’t matter that there are already so few of us – or that they already make billions of dollars.

Now they are threatening to send armed sheriffs to the house to forcefully remove Annette, her elderly father and her children. “They seem hell-bent on getting all Black families out of our neighborhood,” Annette said.

“They’ve foreclosed on a lot of people around here.” Neighbors have pledged to fight back to keep this home in the hands of the Miller family.

Annette Miller’s father, James Johnson, a Purple Heart veteran, stands proudly with his grandchildren. All of Oakland and the Bay Area are invited to stand with them to stop foreclosures and the “cleansing” of Black families from inner city neighborhoods under gentrification pressure.
Annette Miller’s father, James Johnson, a Purple Heart veteran, stands proudly with his grandchildren. All of Oakland and the Bay Area are invited to stand with them to stop foreclosures and the “cleansing” of Black families from inner city neighborhoods under gentrification pressure.

“We’re not leaving. This is our home. This is my home. I was born and raised here and I raised my kids here,” said Annette Miller. The family has assured their neighbors that no matter what, they will not be voluntarily leaving their home.

“I love Oakland. I have nowhere else to go. This is one Black family that they won’t be able to kick out.” Along with Friday night’s vigil, the family plans to keep continuous occupation and watch on the house to assure it stays in their hands.

After continuous calls to NationStar from Annette and the community, they called Annette to offer to sell her back her home for nearly double the amount they sold it for at the auction. “We never missed a payment, they sold the home out from under us and now they want to sell it back for double? That’s robbery and extortion,” said Miller.

“We’re not leaving. This is our home. This is my home. I was born and raised here and I raised my kids here,” said Annette Miller. The family has assured their neighbors that no matter what, they will not be voluntarily leaving their home.

Annette is an active member of the community. She’s on the School Side Council, a part of the New McClymonds Committee, a volunteer for GoPublic Oakland and has been a block captain for National Night Out, feeding her entire block for the last four years.

Annette and her family hope to send a message to the big banks, saying, “I’ve heard the phrase Black Lives Matter a lot recently. My home is my life. And I’m not giving up on it.”

Anya Svanoe can be reached at asvanoe@calorganize.org or 612-412-7262.