by Lisa ‘Tiny’ Gray-Garcia, Mama of Tiburcio and Daughter of Dee
“I would talk about how violent homelessness is with two small children,” said Dominique Walker, co-founder of Moms4Housing and one of the many thousands of houseless mamas struggling to stay alive while houseless across this occupied Turtle Island. She spoke at a press conference after a Christmastime eviction attempt of all the mamas from a stolen home they fiercely re-inhabited so their babies would have a roof in November of 2019.
As Dominque spoke, my mind wandered back to me and Mama trying to stay warm while houseless throughout my childhood, plugging space heaters into bus shelters and almost electrocuting ourselves; the death of Iris Canada, a 100-year-old Black elder evicted from her 40-year residence in the gentrified Fill-No-More district of San Francisco; and Ms. West, unhoused resident of Where Do We Go Berkeley, barely alive in a hospital bed due to a “survival fire,” lit to keep her warm.
I thought of one our youth skolaz at Deecolonize Academy barely escaping an adult sexual predator’s attack in a so-called “family shelter” when he and his mama were houseless. I thought of the CPS targeting and child stealing of a houseless, disabled family we recently supported as we always do at POOR Magazine who made the mistake of revealing their houselessness.
I thought of all of these acts of violence and am sharing them with you, the readers, possibly housed, who have never experienced that kind of cold, that kind of fear, that kind of pain, that kind of trauma and don’t ever associate the word violence with homelessness.
On Nov. 18, 2019, a powerful group of homeless mamas and their children moved into a home in West Oakland held hostage by a violent perpetrator masking itself as a “real estate business.” A real estate “investor” called Wedgewood. Something this poverty skola, houseless mama calls realeSnakkkes and CorpRape Devil-opers.
“EAST BAY REAL ESTATE INVESTORS BUYING HOUSES FAST FOR CASH TODAY
“We’re a local East Bay company that can buy your house in ANY condition, regardless of what you OWE or if you’re in foreclosure.”
The above words come from Wedgewood’s website, but what do they even mean? They are code words for legal theft accorded to land-stealers and wealth-hoarders by the original Constitution, created by the “stealing Fathers” more wealth-hoarders, genocidal murderers and occupiers masked as “successful businessmen” (read rich white men) “Why are you so hard on them, Tiny?” you might be saying. They are just operating as the capitalist system, the way it is set up to operate.
“I would tell them about all the applications I filled out and credit checks and fees I paid, yet we were always turned down, the agencies who say they are there to help us but aren’t and a system that is set up for us to fail,” Dominque said in response to a reporter’s question about what she and other mamas would have told the judge if they had been heard at that hearing about the eviction attempt by Wedgewood on Dec. 30, an attempt that was quashed, giving the mamaz 10 more days before they received their final removal notice on Friday, Jan. 10.
The reporter who was asking the questions was typical of most corporate, anti-poor people media that talk about us without us poor and houseless folks all the time. “MCM” I call them, Middle Class Media, who have, as my poverty skola, eviction survivor and houseless Mama Dee would have said, “have never missed a meal.”
The reality is, businesses like Wedgewood are criminal gangsters with suits and ties and briefcases and college degrees and multi-million-dollar PR campaigns, judges, settler colonial laws and police codes and politricksters who endlessly protect and serve them. They see Mama Earth as a commodity to bought and sold. Period. An important, if not most important aspect of the inhuman system called capitalism.
Wedgewood is best known in the state of California as a preeminent “house-flipper,” meaning they buy (read “steal”) working class people’s homes, slap a coat of paint on them and re-sell them for three, four or five times the amount they “paid” to new owners, who are usually not from those neighborhoods or even the state. A process I call gentriFUKation.
These homes are so easily stolen because the previous owners are desperate to sell. Why, because when they were owners they were never supported, rarely educated in these evil business practices and easily confused by a truly violent business model that counts on people not understanding it.
All of the owners are working class, Black, Brown, elder and family long-term residents of a neighborhood. An intentionally blighted poor people of color neighborhood just like (MacArthur) BlackArthur/Deep East Oakland where Homefulness is located and where we launched the DegentriFUKation Zone when we first launched the Unselling of Mama Earth process to try to help as many people who are still here to stay here.
Why do I say steal? Because these homes aren’t forgotten or abandoned as they are sometimes described. These family homes that working class people worked their entire lives to acquire were foreclosed (stolen) by predatory, shark-like bankkksters, with blood-stained paper called mortgages and bank loans and interest rates, taxed sometimes so much that the working class owners couldn’t afford to pay with their working class salaries, paper-trailed with “blight” notices or fines or outright seizure, for inane reasons like old paint jobs or messy yards that weren’t in line with the gentrified vision of the new neighbors and, after all of that paper abuse, ultimately stolen.
“These scamlords should face criminal charges for their abuse of tenants,” said Vivi T with POOR Magazine, whose family has faced a series of abuses from corporate property management companies who are only buying and selling Mama Earth for a profit.
Months before the powerful Moms4Housing effort was launched, POOR Magazine/Homefulness houseless mamas and co-founders held a press conference and eviction tour called Scamlords be Scamming While Poor Tenants Be Struggling outside of the stolen home of Homefulness co-founder Aunti Frances Moore. Vivi T, Princess Beverly and Sharena Thomas, all mamas and long-time Oakland residents gathered to speak on the criminal harassment that these scamlords, land-stealers and devil-opers are perpetrating against poor families, elders and children and have been for several years. We also made the connection as we have been since 2014 that eviction is elder and child abuse.
“Like POOR Magazine WeSearch has proven, there are literally thousands of intentionally hoarded and gated parcels of Mama Earth across Oakland and the whole Bay Area that these devil-opers and realESnakes buy and then hoard until property values rise high enough for them to flip,” said Kimo Umu, one of our homeless and formerly homeless youth skolaz from POOR Magazine’s Deecolonize Academy school as he presented our Hoarded Mama Earth WeSearch findings.
“All of our homelessness is not seen. A lot of the time, us housing insecure families are hiding because it’s dangerous to be homeless,” said Sharena Diamond Thomas, from Peoples Community Medics, POOR Magazine and one of the Moms4Housing co-founders.
After all of these thefts happen, we end up on the street, in tents, on someone’s couch or hidden in our cars, houseless and alone, criminalized for the sole act of being seen and then “swept” like we are trash,
Moms4Housing are Supersheroes to us houseless and poor mamas at POOR Magazine. Supersheroes like my sisSTAR/welfareQUEENs at POOR Magazine – Jewnbug, Queennandi, Audrey Candy Corn, Pearl Ubungen, Princess Beverly, Vivi-T, Sharena, Aunti Frances, Laure McElroy, Ingrid DeLeon, Teresa Molina, Cheri Honkala, Momi Palapaz, Juju Angeles, Mama Blue, Martrice Candler, Corrina Gould, Loa, my beautiful Mama Dee and so many more mamaz and uncles and daddies and youth and elders, who refuse to give up fighting no matter how many lies they tell about us, and how much destruction is already built into this system to kill us.
Who fight to build poor and homeless people’s solutions, art, media and education to homelessness, like Homefulness, First They Came for the Homeless, Sogorea Te Land Trust, Where Do We Go Berkeley, Consider the Homeless, The Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPHRC), the Homeless Union and the #PoorPeoplesArmy.
And just in case inspiration is needed for the politricksters and conscious folks who showed up for Moms4Housing like Bobbi Lopez and Nikki Fortunato Bass, trying to infiltrate those settler colonial lies (laws), the whole country of Finland has ended houselessness by refusing to live by the scarcity models of there is not enough when there is plenty for all of us.
Supersheroes who go up against a rigged system I call krapitalism that is built on a racist, classist system of violent exploitation by people who think they “own” Mama Earth. We are the SuperSheroes and SuperHeroes and these fights are warrior journeys and we will not give up until housing justice isn’t JustUS.
“We are hard-working moms holding down two to three jobs just to support our children,” said Misty Croft. “We are just trying to survive.”
“This isn’t the end; this is the beginning of a movement,” began Dominque at a press conference on Friday, Jan. 10, after the final eviction ruling came down from the violent kkkorts that always back the scamlords. “But we are here and we are not leaving,” she concluded.
On the same day as their kkkort-ruled violent eviction, Wedgewood proposed a meager scarcity model crumb of two months’ rent to the moms, which of course doesn’t begin to cover the cost of rentals in this insane gentrified housing market. This is the moms’ response:
“It is deeply disingenuous for this multi-million dollar corporation, through their multi-million dollar public relations firm, to pretend to be concerned about the wellbeing of Black families. Wedgewood CEO Greg Geiser is desperate to avoid taking responsibility for how this company has contributed to the housing crisis that is causing families like mine to be homeless and for participating in an industry that has robbed Black and marginalized communities of land and wealth for generations.
“We want to buy this home through the Oakland Community Land Trust, but Wedgewood would rather see our kids be in shelters or worse. We have seen corporations with blood on their hands try to buy public favor, and this is an example. Their ‘offer’ is an insult.”
The moms have declared they are staying and are putting a massive call out to everyone to join them tomorrow, Monday, Jan. 13, at 6:30 a.m., at “MomsHouse,” 2928 Magnolia St., West Oakland. POOR Magazine/Deecolonize Academy/Homefulness family of youth, mama and uncle poverty skolaz will be there. Please join us.
As well, POOR Magazine is holding a DeGentriFUKation Tour of BlackArthur (MacArthur) Neighborhood on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 12 noon, launching at Homefulness at 8032 BlackArthur Blvd., Deep East Huchuin (Oakland) as part of the Reclaim the Legacy of MLK weekend. To join or walk with us, email firstname.lastname@example.org or just come on out. To contact Tiny, go to her website, www.lisatinygraygarcia.com, or on Twitter @povertyskola.