These Moms Fought for a Home—And Started a Movement Favorite 



May 12 2020


Bay Area

When Bay Area activists Moms 4 Housing began their campaign, they were fighting gentrification and institutional poverty. Now, as California's housing crisis compounds during the COVID-19 pandemic, their work has taken on new significance.

In Oakland, the Bay Area’s deep-rooted housing crisis is starkly visible. In makeshift encampments, the city's homeless live in tents, old cars, and mobile homes clustered together in parking lots. Vacant houses, all chipped paint and rotting wood, stand feet away from newly renovated properties that tech industry transplants would swoop up in a heartbeat.

At the end of last year, Moms 4 Housing, a group of Oakland-born unhoused and marginally housed community activists, began a campaign to face these issues head-on. They planned an occupation of one home that had been sitting vacant for years, setting their sights on fighting gentrification, institutional poverty, and a speculative housing market that’s completely transformed the city that they grew up in. It garnered attention worldwide, and now, in the wake of COVID-19, their actions have taken on a whole new context. How can California’s homeless population heed the call to shelter in place when there’s no such shelter to speak of?

Moms 4 Housing will eventually attempt to secure a headquarters, where they can take meetings and create a space for other mothers who are going through the same things. “We see this continuing. Everything that’s happening right now is about to blow up,” Cross says. “This is happening everywhere where black and brown communities are, not just here. So many mothers have hugged me and cried on my shoulder and said, ‘I’m so proud. I wanted to do that, but I was scared, and I’m proud of y’all.’”

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