Tales of Sadness and Anger in Oakland, Antioch



The Chron's Carolyn Said has a sad, poignant story about Oakland resident Joann Gardner, whose family has lived in her little cottage for 54 years, but was finally forced to surrender their home to foreclosure. This isn't a tale of the housing bubble, as the Gardner family had no trouble making payments on a home bought more than half-a-century ago, as opposed to the typical profile of homeowners facing default today. But it's a terrible cautionary tale of runaway consumer debt. According to the Chron, the Gardners refinanced their home over and over to cover credit card debts and interest, as well as so many other little expenses they lost track of where the money went. Now, they've said goodbye to the family's epicenter, and Said has the tragic details.

Meanwhile, the New York Times has a maddening story of race and class tension in the East Bay suburbs, as increasing numbers of the poor move out of Oakland and into subdivisions, following a national trend. Roughly five hundred new families have chased Section 8 programs out to Antioch in the last three years, but as a new class-action lawsuit claims, the city's cops haven't exactly welcomed them with open arms. According to the Times, Antioch police officers have allegedly harassed Section 8 tenants, tried to get Housing Authority officials to evict them, and threatened to punish landlords for any infractions their tenants might conceivably commit, panicking them into backing out of the Section 8 program and giving tenants the boot. Antioch's black population has grown from three percent to twenty percent since 1990, a figure that is likely to increase as the housing collapse forces property owners to look for ways to make their empty homes pay off. But if the Times report and the lawsuit are true, not everyone is happy to see their new neighbors.