Judge orders moms who took over vacant home in Oakland to leave

A judge on Friday ordered the homeless mothers who took over an empty home in West Oakland to vacate the property within five days. 

The justice ruled in favor of real estate company Wedgewood Properties, which owns the home on Magnolia Street saying the women from the group "Moms 4 Housing" have no legal rights of possession to the home. 

After the judge's decision, the group said on Twitter that they aren't shocked at the outcome and they aren't going anywhere.

"We are not surprised by the ruling. We understand that the courts’ hands are tied because in this country property rights are valued over human rights. That is why the California constitution needs to be amended to include the right to housing," Moms 4 Housing tweeted. Adding, "The moms, and the community behind them, will not leave the property." 

At a press conference held outside of the home on Friday, one of the mothers 34-year-old Dominique Walker said the judgment isn't a defeat. "We're here and we're not leaving," she vowed.

The group is determined to keep fighting against corporate landlords they say uproot communities. Walker said, "The system was designed to protect the wealthy, not us." 

On Nov. 18,  Walker, Sameerah Karim, 41, and two other women moved into the three-bedroom home with their children. They said the home has been empty for two years.

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 at an earlier press conference. 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.”

Wedgewood Properties bought the house in July and wants to use the vacant home to provide training and job opportunities to disadvantaged Oakland youth as well as a purchase opportunity for first-time homebuyers. 

The company said while it takes no pleasure in having to evict the mothers, illegally occupying a home will not solve the city's housing crisis. 

"That is the violent, dangerous, and unsuccessful path taken by this handful of activists and supported by three Oakland city council members and the Oakland Community Land Trust. Councilmembers Nikki Fortunato Bas, Rebecca Kaplan, and Dan Kalb must take real steps to address Oakland’s drug abuse, mental illness, and homeless issues," the company said in a statement. 

The women will have to leave the home within five days. 

On Friday, Alameda County Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said that deputies are preapared to remove the homeless mothers if they refuse to leave voluntarily.

"We reached out to the mothers to see if they would be willing to leave without a confrontation but they flat out refused," Kelly said. "It appears that they're looking to force a confrontation.

"We don't want to have to make arrests and run the gauntlet of the activists at the house" Kelly said, but at the same time the sheriff's office has a duty and obligation to enforce the court's eviction order. 

Kelly said the sheriff's office has asked Oakland elected officials to try to convince the women to leave peacefully and some officials have agreed to do so, but he said he's not optimistic the officials will be successful.

"We're sympathetic to the homeless crisis and the social issues that are involved," Kelly said, but his office has a job to do.

"We will go there with the best of intentions and respond from there. We hope that there won't be any arrests and no force will be used but that will be up to the mothers and how they proceed," Kelly said. 

Bay City News reporter Jeff Shuttleworth contributed to this report.