There are four times as many empty homes in Oakland as there are people without homes. Some of these people are children.”
The San Francisco and East Bay areas of California have become hot real estate territories. The market has become so overpriced in fact, that a recent article in Vox was subtitled: “In tech’s capital, even programmers with six-figure salaries are struggling to afford studio apartments.” With a continuing influx of upper middle class salaried workers into this already dense urban landscape, housing and rental prices have continued to balloon, making securing any kind of permanent housing increasingly difficult, particularly for anyone outside of the tech bubble.
West Oakland used to be a middle class residential area, a place where, during the 1970s and 80s, one could afford to live even on minimum wages.
But increasingly, California’s boom as the technology hub of the nation has caused an incredible imbalance between supply and demand for affordable housing. By the end of the 2000s, seven times more jobs were created to housing units in the Bay Area, driving costs up to where the median home value of a home in Oakland is now $755,416.
In November of 2019, two West Oakland residents, both women with young children who had no permanent housing, took up residence in a vacant house on Magnolia St. They called themselves Moms 4 Housing, and began a movement of protest against what they saw as a takeover by development companies of many available vacant homes in Oakland. After two months the group was evicted from the home while hundreds demonstrated outside. Three dozen sheriff’s deputies and a SWAT team were called in by the development company to “SWAT the SQUAT.” But the Moms 4 Housing movement had garnered nationwide attention, and not long after their eviction the company that owned the home—Wedgewood, out of Redondo Beach, California—said that they would make a deal to sell the home to the nonprofit affordable housing group Oakland Community Land Trust. The Land Trust will allow the two families to continue living in the home, and pay a mortgage on the property. If at any time, the families decide to sell the home, it will be sold to another low income family or families.
For more information about the movement, and to find out how you can take action in the affordable housing struggle, please visit: