Two advocates for the homeless who had been living in an abandoned house in Oakland, Calif., were evicted by sheriff’s deputies after a judge ruled they could not legally stay in the home.
The case received national attention and highlighted the sky-high costs of housing in California and the Bay area.
The women, who both have full-time jobs, claimed they couldn’t find affordable housing elsewhere in the city. This is almost certainly true. There are people making good middle-class wages in Oakland and San Francisco who are living on the street.
Dominique Walker and Sameerah Karim, members of the local activist collective Moms 4 Housing, were confronted by Alameda County Sheriff deputies early Tuesday, who forced open the door of the home they had been occupying since November.
Walker and Karim, both Oakland locals who work full time, moved into the home after they said they could not find affordable housing in Oakland for their families.
“There are four times as many empty homes in Oakland as there are homeless people,” Karim said at a press conference outside the home in November. “Why should anyone, especially children, sleep on the street while perfectly good homes sit empty?”
It’s a good point and a seductive idea. All these abandoned homes could be filled with homeless people — except there’s the small matter of who would pay the mortgages. Many of these houses are in terrible shape, with thieves having ransacked them for wiring and other building materials. There’s also the fact that many abandoned properties have already been occupied by squatters who similarly trashed them. It would take many thousands of dollars to get the houses up to code.
The women were squatting in a home owned by Wedgewood Properties, which the women say greedily took advantage of the housing crisis to buy up properties. Wedgewood said that flipping houses is the “backbone” of its work.
“The sad fact is when you steal someone’s house, this is what happens,” Sam Singer, a spokesperson for the company, told NBC News. The company said it would work with a non-profit to renovate the home, employing at-risk youth in the process.
Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan, a supporter of Moms 4 Housing, said she doesn’t trust Wedgewood will follow through with employing at-risk youth.
“Wedgewood owns and buys hundreds of houses. Yet, thus far, they have not offered any of their other properties into the program they claim to be launching,” Kaplan said in a statement to NBC Bay Area.
Apparently, they should just give the houses away — after fixing them up, of course.
There is something pathetic in listening to these women. That they are in distress, I have no doubt. That there are other families even worse off is tragic. But rather than attack the liberal politicians whose policies over the years have created this crisis in the first place, they choose to ignore reality and blame businesses.