On Tuesday, two Oakland moms who were living in a house that didn’t belong to them were evicted. Others also lived in the house -- two of whom were arrested and released hours later.
Redondo Beach-based company called Wedgewood owns that house. The company purchased it at a foreclosure auction, and planned to renovate it and sell it at a market rate.
But before that happened, Dominique Walker, a single mother of two, moved in. Walker told Press Play last week, “The house on Magnolia Street was an eyesore on the block. Doing work in the community, folks pointed to this house in particular, saying it’s been vacant, and just letting us know all the vacancies in their neighborhood when we [were] talking about people being homeless.”
Walker added: “Looking for housing, it was very difficult. Because of gentrification and corporations speculating in our communities, it’s impossible to be able to afford, even with multiple jobs, to afford the rent here.”
We also spoke to Sam Singer, a representative from Wedgewood. He said, “What Wedgewood does is the company goes in and takes distressed homes, homes that have been foreclosed upon. It rehabilitates them. It employs local people, local real estate agents, painters, contractors. And it fixes those homes up and it sells them -- the vast majority of the time to first-time home buyers. So they’re a housing creator, whereas these individuals, these squatters, are housing destroyers.”
KQED reporter Molly Solomon has been covering the story. Today, she tells us that a judge recently ruled in favor of Wedgewood, forcing the women to leave.
On Tuesday at 5:15 AM, 30 sheriffs’ deputies came to the house on Magnolia Street and shut down the occupation.
After the eviction, Walker said to the press, “This house was a statement. It was a symbol of what needs to happen in Oakland. This was an absolute victory. ... This is a movement. It’s ongoing. We [are] here.”
Walkers’ friends, family, and community members have offered to help her with a (short term) place to stay, Solomon says.
“I think they [Walker and the other moms] always knew this eviction would come down, and that staying there permanently at the house was kind of a long shot. But in the bigger sense here, this is what they wanted. They wanted us to think about: This is bigger than just this one house, it’s bigger than Oakland. And just getting us to … ask that question, ‘Is housing a human right?’ and to shine a light on these companies like Wedgewood … is a win,” says Solomon.
What will happen to this house now? Solomon says Wedgewood has put a chain link fence around it, boarded up the doors and windows, and hired security to monitor it so others don’t reoccupy it. Wedgework plans to fix up the house and put it back on the market.
--Written by Amy Ta, produced by Nihar Patel