More than 200 people gathered at a West Oakland home Monday to support homeless mothers who occupied the home nearly two months ago but now face eviction after a judge ruled they have no valid claim of possession.
Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan was among those who spoke outside at the 2928 Magnolia St. home in support of mothers Dominique Walker, 34, and Sameerah Karim, 41, and others at the house. Kaplan said she will fight to convice the Council to buy empty homes to house the homeless.
“We will fight against predatory foreclosures and wrongful evictions that are displacing our community and causing more people to become homeless.”
She said homelessness in Oakland has increased 47 percent since 2017, in part because of soaring home prices.
Walker, Karim and four other women, all part of the Moms 4 Housing collective, moved into the house on Nov. 18. The women say they want to call attention to Oakland’s homelessness crisis and to vacant, investor-owned homes in the city.
But Alameda County Superior Court Judge Patrick McKinney ruled Friday that the mothers have no valid claim of possession to the house.
McKinney’s ruling means that the mothers face eviction from the house by the end of this week. Eviction orders in Alameda County are enforced by the sheriff’s office.
The mothers have said they don’t plan to leave the house voluntarily, but sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said Friday that deputies are prepared to evict the women at a time that’s safe for the deputies and the women.
Southern California-based real estate investment firm Wedgewood Properties bought the house, which had been vacant for two years, for $501,078 at a foreclosure hearing on July 31.
Kaplan said Monday that Wedgewood should negotiate a deal with Moms 4 Housing and the Oakland Community Land Trust, a nonprofit that buys property and converts it to affordable housing. The nonprofit would purchase the house and allow the women to continue living there.
Carroll Fife, the regional director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a group that supports the mothers, also called on Wedgewood to sell the house to the land trust at the same price they bought the property.
Fife said selling vacant homes to the land trust to help provide affordable housing to low-income people should become a model in Oakland.
Fife said she believes the current housing system in Oakland “does not work.”
Referring to vacant houses that are bought and then re-sold, Fife alleged that multi-million dollar corporations such as Wedgewood “are making profits off of what shouldn’t be a commodity.”
The crowd of supporters grew significantly as the night progressed. Several Twitter video posts show people taking turns on a megaphone to explain their support and share personal stories of housing struggle.