Several women who have been illegally living with their children in a West Oakland home since late last year were evicted on Tuesday morning. Alameda County Sheriff's deputies removed the adults inside the home and bound their hands with plastic zip ties. Authorities said the children had left the home on Magnolia Street earlier. A group of protesters gathered outside the house to support the squatters as deputies moved in just before 6:00 a.m.
The women are members of a group called Moms 4 Housing and had been occupying the empty house to call attention to homelessness. They claimed to be homeless prior to moving into the three-bedroom house last November and have also said they have nowhere else to go now. They have been protesting the practice of real estate speculators who they insist are buying distressed homes and letting them sit empty, while California suffers through a severe housing shortage and a growing homelessness problem.
The home was recently purchased at a foreclosure by Wedgewood Properties, and company officials have reportedly offered to pay moving expenses and for two months of the cost for Catholic Charities of the East Bay to provide shelter for the women and their children. However, two of the women, 34-year-old Dominique Walker and 41-year-old Sameerah Karim, called that offer an insult.
Wedgewood issued a statement in which they said they are pleased "the illegal occupation of its Oakland home has ended peacefully."
Moms 4 Housing posted on its Twitter account, "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." They also wrote that their mission isn't over and won't be until everyone in the Oakland community has a safe and dignified place to live."