OAKLAND, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The founder of a leading at-risk youth group today urged the individuals illegally occupying a west Oakland home to leave voluntarily because he is partnering with Wedgewood, the home’s owner, to renovate the house using local at-risk youths.
“I encourage Moms 4 Housing to voluntarily leave the property as quickly as possible so that we can train disadvantaged Oakland youths, give them jobs, and teach them skills,” said James Washington, founder of Shelter 37 and former two-time NFL Super Bowl champion.
“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.
He said “We all feel for these individuals and the hardships they are facing, but no one can condone theft.” He offered to provide free transportation of the women’s belongings to another location.
Washington said his organization has a close working relationship with Wedgewood, which has agreed to share/split the profit from the resale of the 2928 Magnolia St. home that was broken into on Nov. 18 and is being occupied by the women.
Wedgewood and Shelter 37 have worked together on other properties in Compton and Watts. It was also through their relationship that Shari Rodriguez, a homeless single mother with two children, was provided housing for more than a year while she got her feet on the ground.
“I was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles,” Washington said. “The things I want to stress are the importance of making the right choices and the importance of education, training and job development for inner city kids.” He said he hopes his plea will be heard and that his group, Shelter 37, and Wedgewood can get to work right away to give education and training to needy Oakland youths who will learn new skills renovating the Wedgewood property.
“Wedgewood is sympathetic to the plight of the homeless and is a major contributor to shelter programs, inner-city youth, and the disadvantaged. The company hears and respects what the individuals illegally occupying the Magnolia Street home are saying, but it does not respect nor does it ignore the theft of its property,” company spokesman Sam Singer said.
The occupants of the property were served eviction notices from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department. The case is in court.
“Wedgewood encourages the group to depart voluntarily so it can work with Mr. Washington and Shelter 37 to fix the home and put it back on the market,” Singer added. The company’s typical customer is first-time home buyers.
“Wedgewood is helping first-time homebuyers by fixing distressed properties and bringing them back to life as well as helping this wonderful non-profit, Shelter 37, that is devoted to helping inner city youth,” Singer said.
“Wedgewood gets its funding from people and institutions of all sizes and economics, small and big. By attempting to take this home from Wedgewood, these individuals are harming others like themselves whose money was used to purchase this and other foreclosed and distressed properties,” he added.
The mission of Shelter 37 was inspired by the personal journey of its founder, James Washington, whose life experiences are a story of triumph over adversity.
Under Washington’s leadership, Shelter 37 attempts to address the root cause of educational and personal challenges by providing guidance and support that is rooted in compassion and a deep understanding of the difficult environments in which many young youth find themselves.
Shelter 37, based in Los Angeles and expanding nationally, does this by implementing a values-based, real-world curriculum that assists students in setting goals that can be immediately applied to their own lives as students, employees, parents, community leaders, and strong, empowered individuals.
Shelter 37 seeks to improve the overall well-being of children and young adults whose lives have been affected or disrupted by crime, violence, or abandonment, and, as a result, are more at-risk of turning to gangs, crime, drugs, or becoming withdrawn, antisocial, or socially inept. Shelter 37 was founded in 1993 as a not-for-profit public benefit corporation that provides highly effective life skills, job training and educational programs to youth in southern California.