Oakland – Moms 4 Housing’s insistence on taking the Wedgewood Properties home at 2928 Magnolia St. in West Oakland has attracted a giant crowd of people who are apparently willing, if not able, to take on the Alameda County Sheriffs Department, when ever they arrive to evict the homeless moms.
As a resident of Oakland for 40 years i no longer recognize the city i chose to call home. A city with true diversity, progressive politics, and deeply affordable housing for all. #IStandWithTheMoms #moms4housing pic.twitter.com/7joZpbPNCF
— Liz Jacobs (@RNlizjacobs) January 13, 2020
— Stan Bunger (@BungerKCBSRadio) January 13, 2020
How The Moms 4 Housing Controversy Started
If you’re not aware of what’s going on, a group of homeless Mom, aided by former Oakland Mayoral Candidate Cat Brooks, picked the vacant-but-owned house at 2928 Magnolia Street to take over – to “squat”, and announced the action on the website of what is now known as “Moms 4 Housing”.
But, for this blogger, the actions that led to the “Moms 4 Housing” story started in the mind of Cat Brooks well before the month of November of 2019. During her run to be Oakland’s Mayor, Brooks advocated for the take over of city-owned property in East Oakland. Then, last year, she informed anyone paying attention that she had her sights on challenging the actions of a “developer”, though she did not mention the name of that organization. It’s fair to assume that Wedgewood Properties was her target.
The ideas exchanged between Cat and friends, and homeless Oakland moms, led to this Moms 4 Housing post:
Today, two mothers without shelter, born and raised in Oakland, will retake possession of a vacant investor-owned property in West Oakland. The mothers, Dominique and Sameerah, are the founding members of Moms for Housing, created to address the extreme challenges working mothers face in finding safe and affordable housing for themselves and their children.
The Moms 4 Housing Property Squatting Plan Went From Court To This
The actions of Moms 4 Housing amount to property squatting from the perspective of Moms 4 Housing and the Alameda County courts amounts to what is called, simply, theft. It’s not a “taking without just compensation” because that calls for a private property to be taken by the government for a public purpose to ignite a debate. What Moms 4 Housing is trying to do is take private property for its own private use.
From Moms 4 Housing’s view, the housing was bought by Wedgewood Properties just so that it could be “flipped”, or sold at a higher price after renovation. What they’re trying to stop is a giant wave of vulture investors who have come into Oakland, (in many cases illegally) evicted the (more often than not black) land-owners. I know of one friend who called me for advice on such an action in the same West Oakland. I told him I wasn’t going to help him push the poor out of housing for his own purposes. I asked him to figure out a way for them to stay.
The City of Oakland Has The Money To Solve The Problem, But Won’t
Oakland can solve this problem, but it’s leadership has become too activist (Either left or center – there’s not much of a right-wing.) to understand intellectually how to make levers of government that can be pulled to solve a problem.
There’s no one among the Oakland elected officials who can claim experience in running a business, and therefore can form policy to both help keep businesses a going concern, people employed, and housing costs low. The idea of the progressive group are strictly zoning-based, but not subsidy-based. What compounds the problem is their seeming inability to understand how to figure out how to first generate money for needed subsidies, then apply those subsidies.
And what makes that problem even more so is not a few elected officials are helped by the money from many of the same people who benefit from the predatory purchase of property. So, solutions like commercial rent control are not done, and money to help small business remain in a building simply isn’t offered. And then there’s the warehouse problem.
Oakland had the terrible Ghost Ship Fire, when 36 people were killed during a fire that started during a party held on December 2, 2016. Since many of the deaths were people who worked in the Oakland community, like Denalda Nicole Renae, also known as Nicole Seigrist, 29, who worked at the Grand Lake Theater and sold me my ticket to see MARVEL’s Doctor Strange earlier that same year.
The horror that was the Ghost Ship Fire should have led to a new effort to turn warehouses into safe homes for the homeless to have a ceiling – that was the idea of the warehouse where The Ghost Ship Fire happened. Oaklanders, perhaps by the thousands, have been squatting in warehouses to this day. The City has done nothing to help make the illegal, legal and safe for people who need housing help.
All we get in each of these stories is a kind of play for the media to make money: reality television for those who have to watch the plight of those who don’t from a distance. Energy is focused on the media and getting in front of a camera, or on a blog, or video, and no one does the rigorous policy thinking about solving the problem: an out-of-control real estate market that’s drawn every kind of speculator there is. Protesting will not solve the market problem. In fact, over the years of protest in Oakland, the overall quality of life has just gotten worse, not better.
And so here we are, with another reality TV show – this one called “Moms 4 Housing versus Alameda County Sheriffs”. It’s a show I’d rather not watch.
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