Lloyd Canamore poses for a portrait outside of his home, known as the Warriors House, in West Oakland on July 9, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
The man who lives in the unofficial Warriors House of Oakland says he is at risk of losing the home to mortgage lenders who are seeking to collect a massive debt.
Lloyd Canamore has lived in the home, painted bright blue and gold, for more than half a century. With Golden State Warriors banners hanging out front, the home on 35th Street and adjacent to an Interstate 580 on-ramp has become an icon for fans and neighbors.
“The house is my locker room. When I come out of the house, here comes the Warrior man,” Canamore said.
His connection with the Warriors goes back to high school, when he took a job as a food vendor at the Oakland Coliseum, selling peanuts and hot dogs.
“I was comfortable (at the Coliseum), it was like being at home — after the games I was able to play on the court,” he said.
His childhood fandom has carried through to his adult life and has helped him through tough times. He lost one of his sons to cancer in the late '90s. Since then, he’s lost all three of his brothers.
For Canamore, the colors blue and gold are therapeutic. They represent a Warriors mentality to get through grief.
Now, the 58-year-old faces another set of hurdles. Just after his mother died last year, Canamore discovered that she had taken out a reverse mortgage, and now the $350,000 debt has fallen to him.
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“What is the world coming to? Now I gotta sell the house? Now I gotta live in the tents? ... I know I can’t live in no apartments, 'cause I got too many dogs,” he said.
Canamore suspects that a caretaker who was in charge of his mother’s finances might have coerced her into a reverse mortgage back in 2005. Unbeknownst to Canamore, that debt had been racking up for 15 years.
“(She) tricked my momma doing that ... and where all that money went then? I know that $350,000 didn’t come through here,” Canamore said.
A reverse mortgage is an arrangement where a homeowner can receive payments in exchange for giving up some of the equity in their home. Leah Simon-Weisberg, the legal director for Alliance for Californians For Community Empowerment Action (ACCE), an Oakland-based tenants' rights group, said the loans can be predatory schemes that banks deploy in Black and brown communities.
"What's troubling about this situation is that none of the family members were aware that this had happened and that it is from a company that most people have never heard of,” Simon said.
Canamore’s neighbor, Ali Roth, created a GoFundMe page in an effort to save the house.
“I posted it at night, and by the time I woke up, it already had $10,000,” Roth said.
The page has raised over $170,000 in two days, with more than 4,000 donations. Big names like Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry and Bay Area resident and comedian W. Kamau Bell have reposted Roth’s fundraising page on their Instagram accounts.
ACCE said it's willing to fight to save Canamore’s house if the fundraising effort falls short.