The Slatest

Homeless Mothers in Oakland Forcibly Evicted From Vacant Home in Battle Over Affordable Housing

A homeless man sleeps on a sidewalk overlooking the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge.
The Bay Area has been experiencing a homelessness crisis.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Law enforcement in Oakland, California, on Tuesday forcibly evicted a group of homeless mothers battling to stay in an otherwise vacant home that they had been occupying since November. Two of the women were arrested.

The women were members of a group called Moms 4 Housing, which had occupied the property to send a message about the lack of affordable housing in Oakland. The group argues that there are many more vacant homes than homeless people. “No one should be homeless when homes are sitting empty,” the group says on its website. “The Moms for Housing are uniting mothers, neighbors and friends to reclaim housing for the Oakland community from the big banks and real estate speculators.”

The mothers have complained that as rising housing prices pushed them out of their homes, speculators are buying properties in the Bay Area and leaving them empty. The house at the center of the protest belongs to Wedgewood Inc., which began the eviction process soon after Dominique Walker and another homeless mother moved in. Walker filed a claim of right to possession in December, arguing that the house had been vacant for years, but on Friday the court denied her claim and gave law enforcement officials five days to evict them.

Hundreds of people in Oakland, where homelessness has been on the rise, gathered outside the property on Monday to join Moms 4 Housing in protesting gentrification and rising housing costs.

Around 5:15 Tuesday morning, dozens of Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies, equipped with riot gear and assault rifles, arrived to force open the door and evict the women. There were no children in the house at the time, as they had been moved in preparation for the eviction. Two mothers, Tolani King, 46, and Misty Cross, 38, were arrested. According to NBC Bay Area, two supporters were also arrested. They were all charged with resisting and obstructing the eviction process.

After the eviction, about 100 people gathered again to protest.