Hundreds of Moms 4 Housing supporters showed up at Magnolia St. Monday night when word got out that the eviction was being carried out. (Moms 4 Housing)
OAKLAND, Calif. - The high-profile fight in West Oakland rages on, as the Moms 4 Housing advocacy group and hundreds of their supporters snapped into action Monday night when word got around that the Alameda County Sheriff's Department was on their way to evict the mothers from the house they commandeered last fall.
Activitsts rallied at Magnolia St. chanting "Evict the speculators!" following a text message alert and social media posts around 7 p.m. from Moms 4 Housing that said, "Sheriffs are on their way- Get to 2928 Magnolia street now."
Someone speaking on behalf of Moms 4 Housing was astonished at the rapid community response. "Y'all was here in like five minutes. No matter what happens, this that's being built right now, this is the house that the moms built. This is historic and this is the beginning of a movement," said Carroll Fife, who is also spokeswoman for the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.
Sgt. Ray Kelly with the sheriff's office said there were no plans to carry out the evictions Monday night. Earlier, he told KTVU they were hoping for a peaceful, non-confrontational, resolution with the moms and their supporters who may be gathered outside. "We can deal with passive resistance. That's fine."
"It's one of those you can't win situations for law enforcement," Kelly said. "It doesn't benefit us to be confrontational."
At a rally Monday morning, supporters for the moms included city council members including Council President Rebecca Kaplan, who said that homelessness has increased by almost 50 percent in the past couple years, and these are moms trying to take care of their children.
“This is a crisis that is hurting families, it’s hurting children and it’s tearing the fabric of our community,” she said. “It’s vital that we take stronger action and use all the tools at our disposal. We will fight against predatory foreclosures."
The high-profile fight West Oakland rages on, as the Moms 4 Housing advocacy group held an early Monday morning rally in front of the home they commandeered last fall. Jan. 13, 2019
The rallies follow a judge’s order on Friday that the women must vacate the home, which they moved into without permission, by the end of this week. The mothers said they want Wedgewood properties – the owner of the house – to sell the home to them.
Wedgewood has said it wants to use the house to help at-risk youth and provide job assistance. The real estate firm based in Southern California bought the foreclosed property in July for $501,078 at a foreclosure hearing.
Homeless mom Dominique Walker, 34, illegally entered the property in mid-November. Since then, she has been living there with her kids and several other families.
"We are not running away," Walker said on Monday.
They want to call attention to Oakland's homelessness crisis and to vacant, investor-owned homes in the city.
The real estate firm also offered to house the women for two months elsewhere, and help with moving costs.
The moms called the offer an insult. They said they simply refuse to leave the home.
"Moving is not an issue," said Fife. "And everything needed to move is not an issue. Access to people to pack and donate trucks and move is not an issue. The system does not work. Add two months months to six years, and that is not enough time to find affordable housing in the city of Oakland."
Wedgewood spokesman Sam Singer said he’s surprised they turned down the help.
"These women and the activists have stolen this home," Singer said. "They need to do the right thing and give it back."
On Sunday, Singer said the matter was out of Wedgewood's hands. “The sheriff will evict them. It’s quite possible they will evict them sometime this week. We encourage them to leave peacefully and voluntarily.”
Kaplan said she would fight to get city council to buy empty homes to house the homeless. She proposed that Wedgewood negotiate a deal with with Moms 4 Housing and the Oakland Community Land Trust, a nonprofit that buys property and converts it to affordable housing. The nonprofit would buy the house and allow the women to continue living there.
Fife agreed and said selling vacant homes to the land trust to help provide affordable housing to low-income people should be a model in Oakland and that the current housing system in Oakland "does not work."
Activists said Bernie Sanders presidential campaign has reached out to them to discuss policies on homelessness. For now Moms 4 Housing is focused on the situation at hand.
A sign in front of the Magnolia Street home in Oakland.