A group of homeless mothers who were forcibly evicted from a vacant home they illegally occupied for nearly two months has reached an agreement for the sale of the property to a non-profit, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said Monday.
The group, Moms 4 Housing, was evicted last week from the Magnolia Street home they occupied since November 18. The high-profile socially-motivated squatting effort had gained traction in a state with rising homelessness.
Moms 4 Housing reached the agreement with the city of Oakland and Wedgewood Properties, Schaaf said. Wedgewood has agreed to negotiate in “good faith” with the Oakland Community Land Trust to sell them the property at a price that doesn’t exceed the appraised value, the mayor said.
The trust, which helps to secure affordable housing for Oakland residents, intends to buy the home and fix it up for the group, according to Schaaf.
“These three parties have come together to really send a message that everyone cares about this crisis of homelessness,” Schaaf said.
The number of people homeless in California surged 16.4% in 2019 compared with the prior year, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Moms 4 Housing describes itself as a “collective of unhoused and insecurely housed mothers, organizing to reclaim vacant homes from real estate speculators,” according to its website. The group praised the agreement as a victory for its cause.
“This is what happens when we organize, y’all,” the group said in a post on Twitter.
Dominique Walker, a member of Moms 4 Housing and group spokeswoman, told reporters the group is ready to buy the house, and “we’re ready to continue this movement.”
“This movement does not end today with us, with that house on Magnolia Street. We will not stop organizing and fighting until all unhoused folks who want shelter have shelter,” Walker said.
The Magnolia Street house had been vacant for two years, according to Walker.
Wedgewood started the eviction process after the group moved in. More than 300 people gathered at the home to support the mothers the night before the eviction, Walker said.
The mothers and their children were evicted from the home.
Walker said the group had offered to buy the vacant property for the price Wedgewood paid for it but that offer was rejected, according to Walker.
Wedgewood Properties could not be reached on Monday.
Schaaf said Wedgewood has made a “historic agreement” to change the way it does business in Oakland. The company will offer community land trusts, other affordable housing organizations and the city the right of first refusal on its properties, which could make housing more affordable to low-income families and others, Schaaf said.
She said her office will put together a community housing advisory board, co-chaired by one of the Moms 4 Housing members, that will work to make sure the Magnolia sale goes through. The board will focus on measures intended to give affordable housing groups and tenants the first right to purchase properties before they are offered for sale, Schaaf said.
“I cannot condone unlawful acts but I can respect them and I can passionately advance the cause that inspired them,” Schaaf said.