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OAKLAND (CBS SF) — An Alameda County judge ordered four homeless mothers, who have moved their families into a vacant Oakland house without the owner’s permission, to be evicted within the next five days.

Judge Patrick McKinney heard arguments from both sides last week but delayed his decision until Friday.

In his ruling, Judge McKinney wrote: “The court considered, and denied, Ms. (Dominique) Walker’s request to proffer testimony through expert witnesses concerning federal and international legal authorities regarding the right to housing. The court recognizes the importance of these issues but, as raised in connection with Ms. Walker’s claim of right to possession, finds that they are outside the scope of this proceeding.”

“After consideration of the evidence submitted and the arguments of counsel, the court finds that claimant has no valid claim of possession to the subject property.”

Walker asked the judge’s ruling telling reporters — “We’re not leaving…They got to take me out.”

When asked if she and the mothers would occupy another home, Walker defiantly answered: “I would encourage folks to do whatever they need to do to provide shelter for their families.”

Walker moved into the home at 2928 Magnolia St. on Nov. 18 along with her two children, who are one and four years old. She said her youngest child took her first steps as they were working on fixing up the house, which had been vacant for some time.

She was later joined by five other Sameerah Karim moved their families into an Oakland home that was vacant and for sale. They were eventually joined by homeless moms Leena Graves, Jesse Turner, Angela Shannon, and Denise Bambauer and formed a group called Moms 4 Housing.

The property’s owner–Wedgewood Properties–got an eviction order for Dec. 17, but that was delayed by several court filings. Wedgewood bought the house, which had been vacant for two years, for $501,078, at a foreclosure hearing on July 31.

The company said in a statement that “justice is served” and the ruling “is the correct legal, moral, and ethical judgment against the squatters that broke-in and illegally occupied the company’s house.”

“Wedgewood takes no pleasure in having the Alameda County sheriff enforce the court’s order to evict the squatters,” the firm said in a statement. “We urge the squatters to leave voluntarily and peacefully so the company, in cooperation with the non-profit Shelter 37, can renovate the home using at-risk Oakland youth–and provide them with job training as well as share the profits from its sale with Shelter 37 so that other at-risk youth can benefit.”

Walker moved into the home at 2928 Magnolia St. on Nov. 18 along with her two children, who are one and four years old. She said her youngest child took her first steps as they were working on fixing up the house, which had been vacant for some time.

She called on the company to meet with them. Sam Singer, a public relations specialist representing Wedgewood, said the company would only meet on the condition that they leave first.

“They would have to voluntarily leave the house that they have wrongly occupied and if the individuals voluntarily left the house Wedgewood is open to having a conversation with them,” Singer said. “But the company can’t be held hostage by people who have stolen its property.”

Singer argued that their possession of the property was not only illegal but immoral, citing the commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.”

But the mothers and their supporters were making a moral argument as well, saying that companies like Wedgewood are buying property that remains vacant for extended periods of time while thousands of people live without homes.

According to the U.S. Census, in 2018 there were an estimated 15,571 vacant homes in Oakland. Oakland’s homeless population has dramatically increased in recent years.

According to the most recent point in time survey at the end of 2019, there were 47 percent more homeless people in 2019 than two years ago. It estimated that there are 4,071 homeless people in Oakland.

Meanwhile, other large companies have built new developments but at prices far beyond the means of average Oakland residents.

“They’re up against global speculators, global hedge funds, global corporations,” said Ethel Long-Scott of the Poor People’s Campaign. She said the mothers are “doing what the city won’t do: getting our children off the streets and into housing.”

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