Tag Archives: Mother Jones

Jan. 20, 2020 MLK and Moms 4 Housing

On January 3, 2020 WBUR’s Tonya Mosley and Serena McMahon reported “In California, homelessness has been labeled by many as a “crisis” — more than a quarter of the nation’s homeless population lives in the state.  Homelessness in the state grew by more than 16% — about 21,300 people — in 2019 alone, according to the latest official count by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In Oakland, homelessness increased nearly 50% over the past two years due, in large part, to rising rents and evictions. 

On January 8, 2020 NPR’s Molly Solomon reported “According to the most recent count, more than 4,000 Oakland residents are experiencing homelessness. Meanwhile, the city estimates the number of vacant properties at around 4,300.” Aaron Glantz, author of Homewreckers, said “corporate entities like Wedgewood have been acquiring properties across the country.” “As families began to lose their homes to foreclosure in 2008 and 2009, it wasn’t other people that came in and bought those homes. It was speculators buying through shell companies.” “In 2016, Wedgewood’s CEO boasted that the company purchased over 200 foreclosed or soon-to-be foreclosed homes nationwide a month, calling the distressed housing market “hot and sexy.”
 
On January 14, 2020 Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman and Juan González reported “Moms 4 Housing: Meet the Oakland Mothers Facing Eviction After Two Months Occupying Vacant House” On November 18, 2019, Dominique Walker, one of the co-founders of Moms 4 Housing, moved into 2928 Magnolia Street in West Oakland California. Wedgewood Properties owned the vacant house and tried to evict them for illegally squatting on private property. The mothers filed a “right to possession” claim, saying housing is a human right. Dominique Walker said “There’s four vacant houses for every one homeless person in Oakland. We are reclaiming this house from a billion-dollar corporation who bought this house at a foreclosed price. It has been vacant for two years while people are living out on the street. We felt like this was necessary to take this step.” She also said “There are 6,000 to 8,000 folks sleeping on the streets. And that’s not even accounting for all of the unhoused people and housing-insecure. This house was owned by Wedgewood, a company that is a displacement machine. They’re composed of five different companies. They all play a role in the direct displacement of people. We’re taking a stand, and it doesn’t end with one house. We want to take Oakland back from all speculators. We’re not going to stop organizing until we all have shelter. I was born and raised in Oakland. And most of folks are either displaced out, at least 45 minutes to a couple hours out, or they’re displaced onto the street.” 
 
Amy Goodman said” “It’s not so much an issue of scarcity, but of distribution.” Democracy Now’s Marianne Maeckelbergh reported “In the last two years, homelessness in Oakland has increased by 47%. With average rental rates in Oakland rising to nearly $3,000 a month, there are few or no options for most people looking for housing.”
 
Carroll Fife, the director of the Oakland office for Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment said “After the housing crisis and the foreclosure crisis of 2008, many homeowners lost their primary residences — their only residences. And so that allowed speculators and the banks that were bailed out by the government at that time to come in and scoop up homes at rock-bottom prices. So, that is still happening, and we’re still experiencing the impacts of the foreclosure crisis, with speculators owning 35% of the housing stock in America.” “So, some state that Oakland has the worst speculation crisis in the country. And that’s observable by how high the rents are. You have the median one-bedroom market-rate unit starting at around $2,500 a month. And so, the housing wage, which is different from the minimum wage or living wage, in Alameda County, where Oakland is located, is $40.88 per hour. And that is out of reach for many of Oakland’s working-class people.” “Wedgewood Properties has approximately 96 subsidiaries. And they are the real estate speculator that is holding the deed for Moms’ House. They are in the business of buying homes at rock-bottom prices and flipping them. And that is part of the problem why housing is so unaffordable in cities like Oakland. They buy houses by bulk, so 100 to 200 properties per month, if not more, in distressed neighborhoods — their words — and then they flip them and sell them to the highest bidder. So it puts home prices out of reach for many working-class people. So they drive up the cost of rents and the cost of actually purchasing a home, which is why homeownership levels are so low.”And that’s what’s criminal about this housing crisis. There are actually places where people can live. But because they’re private, they’re privately owned, it makes it difficult to even crack into what a solution could be, because the private industry doesn’t have to be held accountable. And that is what we’re saying is criminal. It should not be legal for anyone that owns property, particularly corporations.And we want to make a distinction, because that’s what’s been thrown around a lot, too, is that if an individual mom-and-pop owner of a property left it empty because they’re on vacation, then somehow Moms 4 Housing is advocating taking people’s personal property. That is completely and patently false. What we’re saying is corporations should not be able to hold vacant properties when there is a housing crisis. There should not be people living on the streets when there are places where they can live.” “This is — Oakland looks like an entirely different city than it did years ago, and it’s strictly due to corporations that are able to rent-gouge when they have homes for rent and charge way over market for homes that are not worth what they’re actually selling them for.  And so, this is starting a movement where people who are also experiencing housing insecurity, which means they pay more than 30% of their income in rent, are waking up, because they’ve seen this example of Moms 4 Housing define what the market trends are, and saying, “We deserve housing for all, not just for those who can pay the high price tags.”  
 
On January 15, 2020 NPR’s Molly Solomon interviewed Dominique Walker after her family was evicted. “The sheriffs came in. They came in like an army for mothers and babies.” “Armed officers, some wearing combat fatigues, knocked down the front door before handcuffing two of the mothers, Tolani King and Misty Cross. Two activists supporting the women were also arrested. Outside, a small crowd of protesters shouted down the officers.” They were shouting “Shame on you.” 
 
On January 16, 2020 Mother Jones reporter Marisa Endicott wrote “Police Said They Wouldn’t Be “Confrontational.” Then They Came in Riot Gear to Arrest Homeless Moms.” Oakland city council members, including Nikki Fortunato Bas and president Rebecca Kaplan, even got behind the moms and attempted to negotiate the sale of the home to the Oakland Community Land Trust”. Bas said “What the moms are doing is an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, saying that there was a human right to housing, a right to adequate housing.” “This movement is just beginning, and we see what we’re up against, but we also see what they’re afraid of. They’re afraid of us mobilizing over 300 people in 15 minutes. That’s what we did. Because we all care, and we all have humanity, and we want to change this system.” 
 
On January 20, 2020 KQED’s Kate Wolff reported “Moms 4 Housing Group Reaches Agreement to Buy Vacant House”. At an Oakland demonstration on Martin Luther King Day, Moms 4 Housing announced an agreement to buy the home through the Oakland Community Land Trust from Wedgewood. “Members of the group say once the sale goes through, they plan to move into the house and make it a headquarters for their movement. ”Dominque Walker said “We will not stop organizing and fighting until all unhoused folks who want shelter, have shelter.” Carroll Fife, director of Oakland Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a non-profit that supported Moms 4 Housing, called the agreement “a huge step.”  “What they’re doing is conceding to the pressure that’s been put on them by this movement,” Fife said about Wedgewood.
 

Copyright 2020 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Mar. 31, 2019 Blumbers

California Rising Sea Levels

On March 23, 2019 in Mother Jones, Nick Bowlin reported “The Vulnerability of California’s Coast Is Terrifying.” Patrick Barnard of the US Geological Survey headed the study. Pacific storms can surge several meters on top rising sea levels of at least one or two meters by 2100. “A quarter-meter would endanger more than $30 billion in property—and more than 150,000 Californians””In that scenario, researchers expect that $150 billion in property and 600,000 residents would be impacted by flooding. And if sea level rise approaches three meters by 2100, an unlikely but possible scenario, more than 3 million people would be exposed to flood risk.”

Brett Milligan of University of California-Davis “San Francisco Bay would need to spend up to $450 billion on climate-adaptation projects—including higher seawalls, infrastructure protections, wetland and shoreline restoration, flood control and more—to defend itself against an extreme storm if sea levels rise by two meters.””Cities and officials need to realize that retreat from the coast is inevitable in some areas, and that retaining all low-lying areas and current infrastructure is unlikely” said Milligan. “There are lots of cities thinking about this study and assessing their vulnerability,” said USGS oceanographer and study co-author Juliette Finzi Hart.

“Rich homeowners may be able to rebuild, or move to higher ground, Barnard said. But others might lack the financial capacity to rebuild or relocate. Already, natural disasters have been shown to disproportionately impact economically disenfranchised communities and people of color. Milligan called it the hardest question: “How are we going to provide equitable solutions?”

Time to sell the beach house… in Fresno.

Copyright 2019 All rights reserved.

Dec. 22, 2017 Homeless Memorial Day

On Dec. 21, 2017, NPR’s Camila Domonoske reported “Cities Across The U.S. Honor ‘Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day.””They pass quietly, often out of sight, their deaths more likely an unconfirmed rumor to those who knew them on the street than the basis for a news story,””Many never get a funeral. Some of their bodies go unclaimed at the morgue.” Homeless groups across the country held vigils reading the names of the homeless people who have died over the past year.

On Feb. 17, 2015, Mother Jones reporter Scott Carrier wrote an article “The Shockingly Simple, Surprisingly Cost-Effective Way to End Homelessness” about the Salt Lake City approach for the homeless. They spend $10,000 a year to house, feed and care for them. This is cheaper than spending $20,000 putting them in jail or hospital emergency rooms.

Carrier said “We could, as a country, look at the root causes of homelessness and try to fix them. One of the main causes is that a lot of people can’t afford a place to live. They don’t have enough money to pay rent, even for the cheapest dives available. Prices are rising, inventory is extremely tight, and the upshot is, as a new report by the Urban Institute finds, that there’s only 29 affordable units available for every 100 extremely low-income households. So we could create more jobs, redistribute the wealth, improve education, socialize health care, basically redesign our political and economic systems to make sure everybody can afford a roof over their heads.” Or, we could give a trillion dollar tax break to the richest one percent.
New York University psychologist Sam Tsemberis had an idea. “Okay,” Tsemberis recalls thinking, “they’re schizophrenic, alcoholic, traumatized, brain damaged. What if we don’t make them pass any tests or fill out any forms? They aren’t any good at that stuff. Inability to pass tests and fill out forms was a large part of how they ended up homeless in the first place. Why not just give them a place to live and offer them free counseling and therapy, health care, and let them decide if they want to participate? Why not treat chronically homeless people as human beings and members of our community who have a basic right to housing and health care?””We have the cure for homelessness—it’s housing. What we lack is political will.”
Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Aug. 14, 2017 Greenland Wildfire

On Aug. 14, 2017 Mother Jones reporter Eric Holthaus wrote “There’s an Unprecedented Wildfire in Greenland. That’s Bad News for the Arctic.” Fires in the arctic are becoming more common. The ash lands on the white snow and speeds up the melting ice in a feedback loop. Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist at the Danish meteorological service says “that if the fire is burning in peatland, it could rage for weeks. If the winds shift, soot from the fire could be transported up to the ice sheet, where it might speed local melting in the coming years by darkening the surface of the ice, helping it to absorb more energy from the sun.”

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

May 26, 2017 New Housing Bubble

On May 26, 2017 The Los Angeles Times’ Andrew Khouri reported “L.A. County median home price ties record high as housing market sizzles”.”Prices are rising faster than incomes,” said Selma Hepp, chief economist with Los Angeles brokerage John Aaroe Group. “A lot of people are going to be pushed out.” Kevin Drum of Mother Jones displayed two maps from CoreLogic. They compare areas where homes are overvalued from 2006 and 2007. Jones said “This is the kind of thing that makes me think we might be back into a recession by 2018.”

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

May 25, 2017 Trump Voters Lose Food Stamps

On May 25, 2017 Mother Jones’ Jenny Luna reported “Trump Takes a Big Bite out of His Voters’ Food Stamps”. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps large numbers of people in Red states. “Trump’s proposed cuts to food stamps will by and large hit the states that voted for him the hardest. Louisiana voted overwhelmingly for Trump, as did its Southeast counterparts Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, and Georgia. Out of the 10 states with the highest food stamp use by population, seven voted Republican in last year’s presidential election.” According to Third Way, the budget for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will be cut from $6.35 billion this year to $5.15 billion next year. Meals On Wheels is also on the chopping block.

It is sad that any politician would want children, the elderly, disabled or anyone to go hungry.

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.