Four homeless mothers who took over a vacant Oakland, California house and occupied it for almost two months will reportedly be allowed to purchase it.
According to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Moms 4 Housing has reached an agreement with the city and Wedgewood Properties, who says they will negotiate in “good faith” with the Oakland Community Land Trust to sell them the house at a price that doesn’t exceed the appraised value.
We previously brought you the story of the group Moms 4 Housing, who entered the house on Magnolia Street on November 18 with no intention of leaving. The property was purchased in July of last year at a foreclosure auction for $501,078 by Wedgewood, who has a history of buying up foreclosed houses, evicting tenants and then renovating their buys before putting them back on the market at much higher prices.
Housing advocacy groups claim companies like Wedgewood fueled the 2007 housing crisis, the effects of which are still felt by Californians, and say house-flipping has lead to rapid gentrification and the widespread displacement of Black residents.
According to US Census Bureau data, 78 percent of the homeless population reported that their last place of residence before becoming homeless was within county limits and 70 percent of whom were Black. More than 15,500 units in Oakland alone remain vacant while 4,071 people are homeless.
Moms 4 Housing chose the Magnolia Street house, in part, to force Wedgewood to come to the negotiating table.
“This is what happens when we organize, when people come together to build the beloved community,” Dominique Walker, one of the mothers who lived in the house with her two children, said in a statement, according to The Guardian on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “Today we honor Dr King’s radical legacy by taking Oakland back from banks and corporations.”
The mothers received widespread support from members of the community all the way to the Governor. California’s chief executive Gavin Newsom praised the activists for their efforts.
“Wedgewood has always been and continues to be open to thoughtful and purposeful discussions,” spokesman Sam Singer said in a statement. “After regaining possession of Magnolia Street, we engaged in discussions with governor Gavin Newsom, mayor Libby Schaaf and councilman Larry Reid. These led to progress that everyone should agree is a step in the right direction in helping to address Oakland’s homelessness and housing crisis.”
Previously, Moms 4 Housing had brought the issue to court with a judge ruling in favor of Wedgewood. On January 15, sheriff's deputies arrived in the early morning hours to evict them and arrested two of the mothers and two of their supporters.
Photo: Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images