The House is Ours: How Moms 4 Housing Challenged the Private-Property (...) - Metropolitics
The House is Ours: How Moms 4 Housing Challenged the Private-Property Paradigm
Lauren Everett - 6 October 2020
In the midst of a global housing affordability crisis that has been heightened by the Covid‑19 pandemic, it is time to reconsider how the right to profit from property ownership is privileged in policy, funding, and ideology in the United States. Oakland-based Moms 4 Housing’s bold direct action presented a concrete challenge to the status quo.
housing / affordable housing / community land trusts / property ownership / property / homeownership / private property / real estate / speculation / California / United States / Oakland
On November 18, 2019, in west Oakland, California, Dominique Walker and Sameerah Karim started moving their families into the vacant three-bedroom home at 2928 Magnolia Street (Holder and Mock 2020). They pressure-washed the exterior, patched the roof, installed a water heater, and added a refrigerator and stove. It was a new beginning for both women—single Black mothers who had experienced homelessness due to the cost of housing in Oakland, despite working full-time. The only problem was, they were neither leaseholders nor owners: The house was owned by Wedgewood Properties, described by its own CEO, Greg Geiser, as the largest “fix-and-flip” company in the United States (Dreier 2016). Historically Black neighborhoods are being gradually eroded in Oakland, with a roughly 50% decline in Black Oaklanders between the 1980s and today. One would have to earn $43.46 an hour, or $86,920 annually, to afford a two-bedroom home in the ZIP code where the Magnolia house is located, while Black women in the area earn an average of $49,369. The city also had more than 4,000 unhoused residents in late 2019, representing a 47% increase since 2017 (Holder and Mock 2020).