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Oak Park woman faces losing her home of 26 years

Local organizations are stepping up to help an a Sacramento woman who faces losing her home of decades.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento community leaders and organizations held a news conference on Wednesday morning to speak on behalf of 71-year-old Wanda Clark, who faces losing her home through court appointed receivership.

"Today, we’re showing the city how we support our community," said Rashid Sidqe, executive director of Lift Up Love Always, a Sacramento-based a non-profit organization.

"This is kind of where I ended up at," Clark said at the news conference that took place at her Oak Park home. "I'm still fighting to stay in my home."

Clark purchased the home in 1995. The trouble began 10 years ago when a contractor began building an addition and then left mid-job, after she had paid him $35,000 using a home equity loan. Clark said at the time, she was unaware the construction was unpermitted. 

"He just kind of left me high and dry," Clark said. 

Since then, she's received letters and fines from the city of Sacramento for the unpermitted property, but said she was unable to pay or get the work finished. 

"I tried really hard to take care of this, but unfortunately for me, my credit was bad and I couldn’t get nobody to help me," Clark said. "I’m going to keep my lights and gas on. That was my priority."

She said she was told to vacate the home two years ago, and, in the most recent development, her home was put into court appointed receivership, meaning a third party is managing the home. In this case, the receiver is selling the property. 

"When they do take my home, I have nowhere to live," Clark said. "I don’t have any funds. Where do I go?"

In a statement to ABC10, Peter Lemos, code compliance chief for the city of Sacramento said:

“The City of Sacramento understands and appreciates the sensitivity of this case. City staff have worked with the property owner for more than 10 years to bring the house back to livable standards, waiving thousands of dollars in fees and helping multiple times throughout the process. Unfortunately, the house remains in a dangerous condition both to the property owner and the neighborhood. In addition, to the structural issues and presence of toxic mold, the house also became a location for illegal activity. At this phase, the Court has ruled that the house should be put into receivership. Nevertheless, the City remains committed to continuing its work to help secure a positive outcome for the property owner.”

Clark said losing her home would impact not only her, but also many of her family members.

The Sacramento chapter of the NAACP as well as Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento were among the local organizations working to help Clark.

Leah Miller, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity, spoke at the press conference and said one of the most frequent forms of senior abuse happens at the hands of illegitimate, predatory private contractors. She said in her organization's local repair work, at least 1/4 of inquiries received have been a result of predatory, private contractor work.

"This abuse is compounded by archaic and punitive city policies that are intended for revenue generation and have consequence of displacement of senior home owners, which adds to gentrification of communities like right here in Oak Park," Miller said. 

Along with the city of Sacramento's statement was a timeline of events they noted taking place on Clark's property, since January 2011. The timeline includes multiple complaints received about the condition of the home and attempts made by the city's code department to aid Clark in gaining compliance.

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