Oakland: Moms 4 Housing home sells for $587,500, will become homeless housing

Nearly a year after
Moms 4 Housing
became a national sensation by squatting in an
empty West Oakland home, the group on Friday announced another
victory: That house will soon become the first of many that members
hope to turn into housing for homeless mothers.

After months of negotiations with corporate owner Wedgewood,
Oakland Community Land Trust bought the Magnolia Street house for
$587,500. Now, Moms 4 Housing intends to turn it into a
transitional home where mothers can stay while looking for jobs,
getting their credit in order and finding permanent housing.

The home also will serve as a center for Moms 4 Housing’s next
project. In partnership with the Alameda Labor Council and the
Rising Sun Center for Opportunity, the group intends to train
unhoused mothers in contracting work and then employ them to
renovate other vacant homes to create additional affordable
housing.

An emotional Dominique Walker, one of the founding Moms 4
Housing members, announced the deal Friday.

“This is officially Moms’ house,” she said, standing on
the steps of the home as supporters cheered. “This moment is so
special to me. Today is my son’s second birthday. He took his
first steps in this house.”

But the other changes Moms 4 Housing and its supporters pushed
for months ago have been slow to make a difference. In January,
when Wedgewood agreed to start negotiations with the land trust on
the house, Mayor Libby Schaaf announced another major Moms 4
Housing win: Going forward, any time Wedgewood wanted to sell a
home in Oakland, the company must first offer the property to the
city, the land trust or another affordable housing
organization.

Since then, Wedgewood has offered its entire Oakland portfolio
— more than 100 homes — to the Oakland Community Land Trust for
purchase, according to a Wedgewood spokesman. So far, the land
trust hasn’t bought any. But the organization is in talks with
Wedgewood about several homes, said Steve King, executive director
of the land trust.

Wedgewood declined to comment further.

OAKLAND,
CA – OCTOBER 9: Dominique Walker of Moms 4 Housing speaks at a
press conference, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, announcing the purchase of
the vacant, investor-owned home on Magnolia Street in West Oakland
that they occupied illegally for two months last year. (Karl
Mondon/Bay Area News Group)�

Also in January, Councilwoman Nikki Fortunato Bas announced her
intent to push through the Moms 4 Housing Tenant Opportunity to
Purchase Act, which
would give tenants first dibs
if their landlord moved to sell a
property. But progress on that legislation quickly stalled.

“I have not yet introduced it because of COVID interrupting
and the economic recession and so many other things sort of taking
precedence in terms of what the city of Oakland is focused on,â€
Fortunato Bas said Friday. “But I am definitely committed to
introducing it after the election.â€

The Oakland Community Land Trust closed the deal on the Magnolia
Street house in May. Wedgewood, which had promised not to ask for
more than the home’s assessed value, had originally bought the
house in a July 2019 foreclosure sale for $501,000. Today, Zillow
estimates the home is worth $828,257 — but it needs extensive
work to make it habitable. In August, the
median sale price for a single-family
home in Alameda County
was $975,000, according to DQNews.

Since the deal closed, the land trust has been busy figuring out
what work needs to be done on the home and raising money to pay for
it, said King. The timeline, and the announcement of the sale, were
pushed back because of the coronavirus pandemic.

King said the land trust plans to start renovations, including
work on the foundation and replacing the roof, within the next
month. He expects the work will cost several hundred thousand
dollars and take four to five months.

The money to buy and renovate the house came exclusively from
donations — both from foundations and private individuals — and
does not include city funds, King said.

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Moms 4 Housing, a group of homeless mothers, mothers at risk of
homelessness and activists, skyrocketed to national fame after

taking over
the empty, investor-owned house in November.

In an effort to raise awareness about homelessness and housing
insecurity, and to pressure the city to repurpose other vacant
homes owned by corporations, the group squatted illegally in the
house for two months before
being evicted
by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. Four
people were arrested during the eviction process but were not
charged.

Moms 4 Housing’s message resonated with people in Oakland and
beyond desperate for action on the worsening homelessness crisis,
and prominent figures from Schaaf to Gov. Gavin Newsom expressed
their support. But not everyone agreed with the movement. Many
argued that in occupying the home and breaking the law, the women
had gone too far.

On Friday, Walker and Moms 4 Housing member Carroll Fife, who is
running for the Oakland City Council District 3 seat, signed a
symbolic deed on the front step signifying that the house is
returning to the community. Since squatting in the Magnolia Street
house with her children, Walker has found stable housing in
Berkeley through another land trust.

“It is going to get cold again,†Walker said. “We have to
come together and organize, especially now during COVID, to protect
our neighbors and get them off the street by any means
necessary.â€

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Oakland: Moms 4 Housing home sells for 7,500, will become
homeless housing