UPDATED: 9:15 p.m. EDT, Jan 15 –
Moms 4 Housing’s goal to bring awareness to the current housing crisis in Oakland was met with pushback following their arrest and release from jail after being evicted from the abandoned home that they’ve been living in since November. According to a press release, the belongings of the mothers and children who lived in the home have been destroyed. The release revealed that East Bay MUD “dug a trench around the home and Wedgewood had movers dump all the families’ personal belongings in the street.”
Their belongings became wet and dirty, and the mothers could not remove them from the house because East Bay MUD is preventing them from using a moving truck to take their personal items out of the house.
“Wedgewood dumped our children’s bedding and all our belongings in the street,” said Dominique Walker, a homeless mother of two and a survivor of domestic violence who also leads the Moms 4 Housing group. “Everything we own is wet and destroyed. We can’t even carry our things out because of the enormous open trench dug by East Bay MUD around the property.”
Walker added, “This just goes to show that it’s not just that Wedgewood doesn’t care what happens to us: they hate us. They hate homeless Black mothers and children. Wedgewood CEO Greg Geiser is on the board of openly white supremacist media organization Prager U, so this comes as no surprise.”
A group of homeless mothers in Oakland came face-to-face with militaristic weapons on Tuesday morning after police from the Alameda Sheriff’s Office entered the vacant home where they were living to evict and arrest them. Four people were arrested and booked into Santa Rita Jail, two mothers – Misty Cross and Tolani King, who are members of the Moms 4 Housing movement, and two supporters Walter Baker and Jesse Turner. Following their arrests, the support poured in by the hundreds. Fundraising efforts were made to assist with their bail and the GoFundMe page “#Moms4Housing Freedom Fund,” which had a goal of $2,000, exceeded $40,000 by Wednesday afternoon.
The women and their supporters were released from jail after posting $5,000 bail on Tuesday afternoon and returned to the home to celebrate what they considered to be a “victory,” according to San Francisco’s local CBS affiliate. The women who lived in the home with their children said that there was a bigger issue at hand. Them living in the home was a symbolic measure to raise awareness surrounding the housing crisis in Oakland. The families moved into the three-bedroom home in November “partly to protest the methods of speculators who they say snap up distressed homes and leave them empty despite the housing crisis,” according to SF Gate.
That particular home was chosen to expose the greed of the local real estate company that owns the property. “Wedgewood Inc. bought the property for $501,000 at a foreclosure auction last year” and “had planned to flip the 1,500-square-foot property,” according to SF Gate.
Carroll Fife, of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment said, “We are not trying to take the individual properties of moms and pops, don’t let Sam Singer tell you that. We’re talking about the greed of wealthy corporations that are robbing all of us.”
After the women were released, they returned to the home where a celebratory barbecue was being held in their honor. There, they also pondered their next steps. “What’s next? I don’t know. I don’t really know where I’m sleeping at tonight,” King said.
Despite King’s uncertainty, her and Cross promised that they their movement would move forward. “Man, I’m fighting this fight, period!” Cross said.
The home has since been boarded up with wood and a fence has been placed around the property, but Cross said that is a temporary solution. “This ain’t gonna stop!” she said. “That’s a temporary fence. It’s not in the concrete. Anything built up can be broken, just like this system.”
Dominique Walker echoed Cross’ sentiments. “This house was a statement, it was a symbol of what needs to happen in Oakland,” Walker said. “This was an absolute victory.”
The four individuals who were committing a crime in the eyes of law enforcement, but were celebrated by their community, have placed a spotlight on the housing crisis in Oakland and how homeless is being criminalized.