Community leaders come together in fight to save 71-year-old Oak Park resident’s house

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The family of an Oak Park woman is accusing the city of Sacramento of elder abuse.

The accusations come after 71-year-old Wanda Clark was told that her home of 25 years is now under a receivership.

Clark told FOX40 that it was love at first sight when she bought her three-bedroom, one-bath home on Washington Avenue in the ’90s. 

“I didn’t think I’d get it, but I did and I’ve been here ever since,” Clark said.

After taking in her daughter and grandchildren several years later, Clark hired a contractor to build a second-story apartment above the garage to accommodate them. She didn’t know the results would be disastrous.

“I found out later that he never had permits to do any of the stuff that he did,” Clark recalled.

The house was left unfinished, causing leaks that led to thousands of dollars’ worth of mold and water damage. Before Clark could get her money back, her credit had been tarnished and the contractor died.

“I had got a pre-approved loan, a rehab loan to redo this,” Clark said.

Despite her best efforts, the city’s code enforcement has been to her home 40 times over the past 10 years.

The home is now condemned and under the control of the Bay Area Receivership Group.

“At first, it started off with, ‘We’re going to help you get back in your home. We’re going to help you fix your home,'” Clark explained. “And as time went on, it was like, ‘It’s going to cost too much to fix your home.’”

With mounting receivership and code enforcement fees, Clark is $500,000 in debt and is forced to work 12-hour shifts as a janitor to pay for her shuttered home while living on her sister’s couch across the street. 

“And what has the receivership did? Stand here and told us how they would tear my sister’s house down and provide four other homes here and a set of duplexes over there, and how they might be able to sell her a home on this land for $300,000,” said Terri Austin, Clark’s sister.

For Bruce and Linda Siegrist, Clark’s story sounds all too familiar.

“My lawyer called and said, ‘I’m going to court tomorrow,’” Linda Siegrist told FOX40. “And I said, ‘What for?’ He goes, ‘Didn’t you get the papers?’ I said no. He goes, ‘I’m trying to save your house.’ We never got the letter so we could comply, and they just sent us into receivership.” 

The Siegrists and others are now rallying behind the Clark family to provide whatever support they can. 

“I received a call from the city manager this morning explaining to me what’s going on,” said Betty Williams, president of the Greater Sacramento NAACP. “He just got this information. He would like to work with NAACP and the Clark family.” 

“I came out here today to look at the condition of the house and to see how our construction unions can help her move back in her house,” said Kevin Ferreira, the executive director for
Sacramento-Sierra’s Building and Construction Trades Council.

But Clark said she still fears the worst will happen. 

“I’m still fighting to stay in my home,” Clark said. “That’s my goal, is to stay in my home.” 

The house is scheduled to be auctioned in November.

The city of Sacramento sent FOX40 the following statement:

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.

Peter Lemos, Code Compliance Chief, City of Sacramento

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