Two homeless mothers have temporarily beaten back an eviction attempt brought by the property owners of the vacant West Oakland home they have occupied – without the owner’s permission – for the past six weeks.
On Monday Judge Patrick McKinney heard from both sides inside a jammed-packed courtroom before delaying a decision on whether or not the women would be evicted.
“I want to carefully consider the issues that have been raised,” he said.
The attorney for the women, Leah Simon-Weisberg, felt that was a promising sign. “So for us, that creates a lot of hopefulness in terms of his future decision,” she said.
Simon-Weisberg told the judge the women should be allowed to live in the house “in the interest of justice” and based on a needs analysis of Oakland’s homelessness crisis.
Wedgewood Properties’ attorney Francisco Gutierrez urged McKinney to dismiss the women’s claims immediately, saying, “A delay only benefits one party in this case,”
The mothers, Dominique Walker and Sameerah Karim, are a part of Moms 4 Housing, a group of homeless and marginally housed mothers. They moved into the property on Magnolia Street on November 18, saying they want to call attention to the vacant, investor-owned homes in Oakland and the city’s homelessness crisis.
The house was bought by real estate investment firm Wedgewood Properties for $501,078 at a foreclosure hearing on July 31 after it had been vacant for two years.
After the hearing, dozens of supporters gathered at the home, linking arms and surrounding the property.
“Wedgewood’s position is clear and has been consistent from the beginning,” said a letter from spokesman Sam Singer. “We will not meet or negotiate with the squatter’s organization that broke into our house and is illegally occupying it.”
Wedgewood has served an eviction notice on the women.
“There is no right way to do a wrong thing,” said Sam Singer, a spokesman for real estate firm Wedgewood. “What these people are doing is the wrong thing. They are bullies, and they are thieves.”
Councilwoman Nikki Fortunato-Bas counter with the claim that “Wedgewood, in particular as a speculator, is driving up housing prices. She and other Oakland City Council members and protest supporters again called on Wedgewood to sell the house through the Oakland Land Trust.
When asked why Wedgewood will not sell the house Singer answered: “Because they stole it, they stole this house!”
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