Two mothers and their children recently booted from a vacant California home for living there illegally are now in talks to buy the property.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf helped facilitate the deal between the Moms 4 Housing group and Westwood Properties, the investment firm that owns the residence. According to Schaff, the company has agreed to a “good faith” deal to sell the home at or below the appraised value to the Oakland Community Land Trust, which will in turn sell the property to the women.
“We’re just happy. We’re ready to buy Mom’s house and we are ready to continue this movement,” said Dominique Walker, one of the moms who was evicted by deputies last Tuesday. “This movement doesn’t end today with us, with that house on Magnolia Street. We will not stop fighting or organizing until all unhoused folks who want shelter have shelter.”
Walker, 34, and her two children took up residence at the three-bedroom, one-bath west Oakland property on Nov. 28, along with another mom and her five kids. The women had no intention of leaving the home, which is appraised at more than $630,000 on Zillow, despite a judge’s order for them to vacate.
On Jan. 14, the moms were evicted from the property by heavily armed police. Video from their arrests showed protesters chanting for officers to “let the moms go!” as authorities led the women from the home with their hands bound.
For many, the moms’ plight and subsequent removal are a glaring reminder of the region’s housing crisis. Recent data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows that over 150,000 Californians are homeless, representing a nearly 17 percent jump from 2018.
The report also found that African-Americans are disproportionately found living on the streets and represent about 30 percent of California’s unhoused population.
In a statement, Schaaf praised the agreement between the moms, Westwood Properties and the city’s land trust.
“These three parties have come together to really send a message that everyone cares about this crisis of homelessness,” she said.
As part of the deal, the investment firm has also agreed to give the city, the land trust and other groups first right of refusal on all 50 of its Oakland properties, local station KGO reported.
“What this is going to provide the city of Oakland along with the disadvantaged, is a pipeline of homes that Wedgewood is going to make available to the city so that it can participate in buying some of them,” said company spokesman Sam Singer.
Details of the mothers’ living arrangements are still being ironed out. Walker didn’t say when she and the other families will return to the home but said, for now, the residence will serve as a space for Moms 4 Housing to organize.
When asked about the goal of the movement, Walker told ABC News their decision to stay was less about the property and more about the “right to housing for all.”
“Housing is a human right,” she said.
Watch more in the video below.