Back to Inquiry Set

12AD.3.11 Demonstrators hold up a banner outside a home in West Oakland last week to show support for four homeless women who have been illegally occupying.

In November of 2019 a group of Oakland women found themselves homeless and decided to take action and occupy a vacant house in their neighborhood. The home was owned by a corporate real estate company who had until then held the space vacant, demanding an extremely high rent. The women occupied the house on the grounds that the real estate company had driven them from their home using predatory loan practices, and kept the site vacant in the hopes that more affluent homeowners would take their place.
Lurie, Gabrielle / San Francisco Chronicle
2020 January 19

Lurie, Gabrielle, 2020 January 19,“Demonstrators hold up a banner outside a home in West Oakland last week to show support for four homeless women who have been illegally occupying.” Gabrielle Lurie / San Francisco Chronicle / Polaris

This source is meant to help students understand the legacy of housing struggles experienced by Black people, other people of color, and the poor in California. With the context of Proposition 14 as the backdrop, ask your students to examine the ways the racialized history of housing in California still affects minority communities today. The degree to which affordability of housing as opposed to housing discrimination shapes communities should be examined. The lack of affordable housing, home foreclosures, and the impact on minority communities should be discussed. The overrepresentation of African American people in contemporary calculations of unhoused people in cities like Los Angeles and Oakland, and how that reflects on the anti-discriminatory legislation described in this source set, should also be analyzed.

In November of 2019, two African American women and their children occupied a home in the West Oakland neighborhood of the city, in violation of local laws. The women had been displaced from their homes as a result of high rents and the demand for housing in the San Francisco Bay Area. The home they occupied was owned by a corporate real estate company and symbolized the profit motive behind the housing market. The house had been vacant for a long period of time, eliminating available housing for those who needed it most. In an effort to draw attention to the lack of affordable housing, people in Oakland rallied around the “Moms 4 Housing” organization. The women and their families resided in the home for two months before being forcibly removed by law enforcement.

In what ways were the struggles for housing faced by the women in Moms 4 Housing different from the struggles for housing faced by people discriminated against prior to the Rumford Fair Housing Act? How are the two struggles similar? Why might Moms 4 Housing choose to break laws related to housing? How do those laws affect minority populations?

The banner in the foreground being held by protesters reads: