Please subscribe to the Gimme Shelter podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Google Play, Spotify or Overcast.

Last November, a group of homeless and housing insecure moms took over a vacant home in West Oakland. It was a protest against corporate ownership of housing, gentrification, displacement and the lack of housing for homeless citizens. And in the early morning of Jan. 14, the group was evicted and several members were arrested by the Alameda County Sheriff.

“I don’t identify myself as a squatter — we moved into that home and wanted to reclaim it back into the hands of the community,” Moms 4 Housing activist Dominique Walker said. “It was an eyesore on the block, we had to pressure wash the outside, install a water heater, fridge, stove.”

But then, something unexpected happened — the activists won. In a deal cut with the home’s owner, corporate house-flipping giant Wedgewood Inc., the house will be sold to the nonprofit Oakland Community Land Trust, who will fix it up and allow the moms to move back in. 

The deal also grants Oakland, the land trust or other nonprofits the right of first refusal, or the first shot at purchasing any of the homes Wedgewood owns for conversion to affordable housing before they are sold on the open market.

“This is not just an Oakland issue, not just an issue in the United States. This is a global issue,” Walker said. “Everyone is closer to being homeless than they are to being a billionaire.”

On this episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” CalMatters’ Matt Levin and The Los Angeles Times’ Liam Dillon interview Moms 4 Housing’s Dominique Walker and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment’s Carroll Fife on the success of the group’s direct action as well as what’s happening next. They also talk with The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Aaron Glantz, whose new book Homewreckers zeroes in on investment bankers and shell companies buying up thousands of California homes.

Latest in Gimme Shelter

Colorful residential row houses of San Francisco with a view of downtown San Francisco skyscrapers in the distance.

Gimme Shelter

Podcast: Will California rethink housing density because of COVID-19?

The Plaza Apartments in downtown San Francisco. Multiple tenant protection bills face key votes next week.

Gimme Shelter

Podcast: A million bucks to build one low-income housing unit

In a press conference following the first COVID-19 death in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom condemns price gauging on necessary medical and safety items such as hand sanitizer. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Gimme Shelter

Podcast: Coronavirus and the housing crisis

Gimme Shelter

Podcast: ‘The Governator’ on housing, homelessness and Gold’s Gym

Gimme Shelter

Podcast: Housing crisis? Presidential candidates have a plan for that

Gimme Shelter

Podcast: Housing storylines to watch in 2020