East Bay

Founder of At-Risk Youth Nonprofit Urges Oakland Squatters to Leave

Pair of homeless mothers took over Magnolia Street house that owner intends to renovate with help from Shelter 37

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The founder of a nonprofit that helps at-risk youth has urged the homeless mothers squatting at an Oakland home to leave the property so his organization and the homeowner can begin renovating it.

James Washington, a former NFL player, said his nonprofit, Shelter 37, has partnered with Wedgewood on the renovation and resale of the home at 2928 Magnolia St., where two homeless mothers moved in last month and have since refused to leave.

"I encourage Mothers4Housing 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 in a statement. "Shelter 37 has had a long-term relationship with Wedgewood ever since CEO Greg Geiser was a founding board member and long-time supporter. The relationship 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."

Washington added that he feels for the two women, Dominique Walker and Misty Cross, and the hardships they are facing, but he doesn't condone theft. He has offered to provide free transportation of the women’s belongings to another location.

Washington, a native of South Central Los Angeles, said he empathizes with the Mothers4Housing families but he also recognizes the importance of "education, training and job development for inner city kids."

Wedgewood and Shelter 37 have worked together on properties in the Southern California areas of Compton and Watts.

Walker and Cross, who took over the house on Nov. 18, were served an eviction notice in early December, and the case is in court.

Shelter 37 is based in Los Angeles and said it aims to keep at-risk youth from turning to gangs, crime, drugs or becoming withdrawn, antisocial or socially inept.

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