A group of black homeless mothers who refused to leave an otherwise vacant Oakland home is celebrating a major win in its fight for affordable housing after city officials announced Monday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day that a land trust will be allowed to buy the property they were earlier evicted from. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said at a press conference Monday that officials with Wedgewood, a real estate firm based in Redondo Beach that owns the property in question, have agreed to “negotiate in good faith” with the Oakland Community Land Trust to sell the Magnolia Street home at a price set no higher than its appraised value. "But even more than that, Wedgewood has made a historic agreement to change the way they do business in Oakland and to offer community land trusts or other affordable housing organizations or the city the right of first refusal on all of their properties,” Schaaf said.
She called the agreements, as well as a promised advisory board on affordable housing that her office is spearheading, “huge wins in our fight to address the humanitarian crisis of homelessness.” Schaaf said that the advisory board would work on policies that will include an act on tenants’ opportunities to purchase, which would allow tenants the first right to buy property they've been living in before it's offered for sale on the larger market. "I will add I can not condone unlawful acts, but I can respect them and I can passionately advance the cause that inspired them," the mayor said.
Moms 4 Housing activist Dominique Walker thanked city council members who have been standing with her since the beginning of her movement, saying Monday during another press conference that the win regarding the property on Magnolia Street is not the end of her fight. "We will not stop organizing and fighting until all unhoused folks who want shelter have shelter," Walker said.
Carroll Fife, an Oakland mom and director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, said at a press conference predating the agreement that speculators are driving up the cost of housing for everyone and putting housing out of reach for the most vulnerable. She had been critical of an earlier offer from Wedgewood officials to pay for the moms to stay at a shelter temporarily, and she instead had challenged those officials to sell the property to a land trust so that it remains affordable for the working class “in perpetuity.” “The housing wage in Oakland is $40.88 per hour. That means there is no housing available to working people in this city,” Fife said. “So to offer them this gesture is the work of a public relations firm. It is not intended to truly house the families.”