Homeless mothers reclaim vacant Oakland property

A group of women called "Moms 4 Housing" are reclaiming vacant homes, so that homeless women can live in them. 

On Monday, two of these mothers, Dominique Walker, 34, and  Sameerah Karim, 41, took over a three-bedroom house on Magnolia Street, which they say has been empty for two years.

“There are four times as many empty homes in Oakland as there are homeless people,”  Karim said at a news conference on the steps of the home. “Why should anyone - especially children - sleep on the street while perfectly good homes sit empty?”

Sameerah Karim, center, Dominque Walker, right, formed the group Moms for Housing.

Their goal is to take back vacant properties owned by investors and are located in neighborhoods where the mothers grew up in, but now, can't afford to live in. They realize they don’t have permission to get into the house. And the Bay Area News Group noted they didn’t say how they got inside. 

“This home was stolen from the Black community in the subprime mortgage crisis, and it’s been sitting vacant for nearly two years," Walker said. She said her group tried working through the system to find affordable housing and she and Karim hold down multiple jobs.

"But this system doesn’t work for people," she said. "It only works for banks and corporations.”

The West Oakland property is owned  by Catamount Properties 2018 LLC, according to the Alameda County Assessor’s Office. That company is part of Wedgewood, a Redondo Beach-based real estate investment company that does business throughout the Western U.S. and Florida, BANG reported. 

So far, Wedgewood has not commented on the situation.

In a 2016 article in Huffington Post, Wedgewood's CEO, Greg Geiser told a real estate conference in Florida that his firm is the biggest “fix and flip” company in the country. He said the company purchases about 250 foreclosed or about-to-be-foreclosed homes a month.  Geiser told the audience that the “distressed market” is “hot and sexy” and “new and trendy.” 

Moms for Housing is a collective of homeless and marginally housed mothers who have joined together with the ultimate goal of reclaiming housing for the community from "speculators and profiteers." Their website states that they believe that "no one should be homeless when homes are sitting empty" and "housing is a human right." 

The Moms for Housing will be hosting political education workshops on Twitter at @Moms4Housing and Facebook at Moms4Housing. Supporters can text 510.800.7810 to join the Moms for Housing coalition.