rainn.png
Wednesday October 28th, 2020 7:57AM

California housing crisis: Oakland moms evicted by deputies

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Homeless women ordered by a California judge last week to leave a vacant house they illegally occupied in Oakland for two months were evicted before dawn Tuesday by sheriff's deputies in a case that highlighted the state's severe housing shortage and growing numbers of homeless people.

Alameda County Sheriff's deputies, some dressed in military-style fatigues, escorted two women with the Moms 4 Housing group from the home and bound their hands with plastic ties as dozens of activists on the sidewalk chanted “Let the moms go! Let the moms go!” and recorded the chaotic scene with their cellphones.

Two men were also arrested. All four had been released by Tuesday afternoon.

Video showed one deputy slamming a battering ram against the house's front door.

The women decried the show of force and declared their fight far from over in a city where a one-night count of homeless jumped 47% in two years to more than 4,000 last year and the median house sales price is about $750,000. Deputies boarded up the house with plywood, and a chain link fence was later erected around the property.

Deputies who carried out the eviction "came in like an army for mothers and babies," said Dominique Walker, one of the mothers who was not arrested. “We have the right to housing. This is just the beginning.”

How permanently the women have changed the conversation around what is an intractable — and statewide — problem remains to be seen. An uptick in the U.S. homeless population last year was driven entirely by a 16% increase in California, federal officials have said, and the governor has pledged to tackle the twin crises of homelessness and deep housing unaffordability.

The Oakland women have said nobody should be homeless when investment companies are buying and fixing up properties to sell at profit. The occupied house in the distressed west Oakland neighborhood is owned by Wedgewood Inc., a Southern California real estate investment group that bought the property at a foreclosure auction last year for just over $500,000.

Wedgewood said it plans to work with the nonprofit group Shelter 37 to renovate the property with help from at-risk youth and will split profits from the home's sale with Shelter 37.

Squatting is nothing new in the San Francisco Bay Area, said Needa Bee, a homeless mother who works with The Village in Oakland group to shelter homeless people, in some cases inside houses that belong to others.

The group identified nine unoccupied homes over the last year for 40 homeless people, she said. Some properties targeted for squatting included homes owned by banks and investment firms. Others were homes owned by people having trouble paying property taxes, and who welcomed the homeless as tenants in exchange for the group's help paying taxes or making repairs.

The group also plans to build homes and a solar shower on a median strip in an East Oakland neighborhood currently used as an illegal trash dump, Bee said.

“We live in a society that is pro-property owners and pro-capitalist so when you have that kind of value system, you’re going to have people who live on medians and who are harassed for living on medians," Bee said.

The women who were evicted Tuesday moved into the three-bedroom house in November with their children, partly to protest the methods of speculators who they have claimed snap up distressed homes and leave them empty despite California's housing shortage.

They also wanted to highlight the plight of African Americans in the U.S. who were historically shut out of owning property and forced into substandard neighborhoods that are now popular with wealthier, and often whiter, residents.

African Americans are about a quarter of Oakland's population, but made up 70% of homeless counted.

“We live in a society that is anti-poverty, that is anti-black,” Bee said.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Patrick McKinney ruled Friday the women did not have the right to stay and had to leave within five days. McKinney said the courtroom was not the place to address issues of housing and homelessness.

Still, McKinney allowed lawyers for Walker, and her recently formed collective, Moms 4 Housing, to make their case. They argued that housing is a right and that the court must give the women the right to possess the house, especially because it sat vacant for so long and because the alternative would be to send the women to live on the streets.

On Tuesday, Sgt. Ray Kelly, spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, called the high-profile eviction a success because authorities feared a potential for violence.

Officers had to use the battering ram to get into the house because the back and front doors had been fortified, Kelly said. Two women and a man who were inside were arrested after they were given 5 minutes to leave and did not, he said. A fourth person was arrested outside the house.

“There was a tremendous amount of work that went into this and we had to think outside the box a little bit," Kelly said.

Officers then boarded up the house with plywood and said it is up to Oakland police to arrest anyone caught trespassing. The house did not contain many belongings, Kelly said, and Wedgewood is responsible for returning those belongings.

Kelly said the department is considering billing Wedgewood for the “tens of thousands of dollars” associated with enforcing the eviction.

The people arrested will be booked on misdemeanor charges of resisting and obstruction, he said. No children were present during the 5:15 a.m. eviction because the mothers had sent them away for safekeeping.

Wedgewood said the company was pleased “the illegal occupation of its Oakland home has ended peacefully.”

Moms 4 Housing said after the eviction that its efforts will continue despite the arrests.

“We’ve built a movement of thousands of Oaklanders who showed up at a moments notice to reject police violence and advocate for homes for families,” the group tweeted. “This isn’t over, and it won’t be over until everyone in the Oakland community has a safe and dignified place to live.”

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Financial Services
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
US drinking more now than just before Prohibition
Americans are drinking more now than when Prohibition was enacted
12:58PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Man accused of killing hotel worker in Anguilla sues resort
A Connecticut man charged with killing a hotel worker he says attacked his family on the Caribbean island of Anguilla has filed a negligence lawsuit against the resort company that operates the hotel
12:36PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Jury selection at Weinstein's rape trial enters sixth day
Jury selection at Harvey Weinstein's New York City rape trial has resumed a day after supermodel Gigi Hadid caused a stir by emerging as a potential juror
11:51AM ( 1 hour ago )
U.S. News
Big Ben, big bucks: Brexit bell plan hits financial hurdle
Will Big Ben bong for Brexit? Not unless British taxpayers cough up the bucks
12:48PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Questions of racism linger as Harry, Meghan step back
As Prince Harry and wife Meghan step back as senior royals, a debate is raging about what role racism played in fueling the couple's discontent
12:46PM ( 26 minutes ago )
French priest recounts how he abused boy scouts over decades
A former French priest is describing how he systematically abused boy scouts over two decades, and says his superiors knew about it
12:45PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Lebanese protesters back in streets following brief lull
Lebanese protesters have renewed rallies after a weekslong lull
12:07PM ( 1 hour ago )
Pelosi sets Wednesday votes to send impeachment to Senate
The House is expected to vote Wednesday to send the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate
12:00PM ( 1 hour ago )
McConnell’s challenge: Shaping a trial amid Trump’s demands
As President Donald Trump prepares for only the third impeachment trial in American history, no one may be more important to his defense than the Kentucky Republican in charge of the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
11:56AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Judge refuses to second-guess family separations at border
A U.S. judge has ruled that the Trump administration is operating within its authority when separating families stopped at the Mexico border, rejecting arguments that it was quietly returning to widespread practices that drew international condemnation
10:37PM ( 14 hours ago )
High anxiety: Proposed US hemp rules worry industry
Hemp was ushered in as a federally legal agricultural crop under the groundbreaking 2018 Farm Bill
7:22PM ( 17 hours ago )
‘Joker’ leads Oscar noms; ‘1917,’ ‘Irishman’ close behind
Female filmmakers have been shut out, “Parasite” has made history and “Joker” has edged out all other films in this year's Academy Awards nominations
6:45PM ( 18 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
Nigel Farage gets his way, and last laugh: Brexit is coming
Nigel Farage is leaving the European Union parliament building in Strasbourg where he has fine-tuned his Brexit message over the past two decades
12:22PM ( 50 minutes ago )
Dating apps leak personal data, Norwegian group says
A Norwegian consumer group says dating apps including Grindr, OkCupid and Tinder leak personal information to ad tech companies in possible violation of European data privacy laws
11:53AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
US drinking more now than just before Prohibition
Americans are drinking more now than when Prohibition was enacted
12:58PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Man accused of killing hotel worker in Anguilla sues resort
A Connecticut man charged with killing a hotel worker he says attacked his family on the Caribbean island of Anguilla has filed a negligence lawsuit against the resort company that operates the hotel
12:36PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Jury selection at Weinstein's rape trial enters sixth day
Jury selection at Harvey Weinstein's New York City rape trial has resumed a day after supermodel Gigi Hadid caused a stir by emerging as a potential juror
11:51AM ( 1 hour ago )
Federal government blasts PG&E's deal with fire victims
Tensions between the U.S. government and Pacific Gas & Electric are boiling over as they battle over whether a taxpayer-funded agency should be allowed to stake a claim on a $13.5 billion settlement covering most of the losses from catastrophic wildfires blamed on the bankrupt utility
3:00AM ( 10 hours ago )
Judge refuses to second-guess family separations at border
A U.S. judge has ruled that the Trump administration is operating within its authority when separating families stopped at the Mexico border, rejecting arguments that it was quietly returning to widespread practices that drew international condemnation
10:37PM ( 14 hours ago )