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Housing crisis: Moms are evicted by deputies

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Homeless women ordered by a California judge last week to leave a vacant house they illegally occupied in Oakland for two months were evicted before dawn Tuesday by sheriff’s deputies in a case that highlighted the state’s severe housing shortage and growing numbers of homeless people.

Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies, some dressed in military-style fatigues, escorted two women with the Moms 4 Housing group from the home and bound their hands with plastic ties as dozens of activists on the sidewalk chanted “Let the moms go! Let the moms go!” and recorded the chaotic scene with their cell phones. Two men were also arrested.

Video showed one deputy slamming a battering ram against the house’s front door.

The women decried the show of force and declared their fight far from over in a city where a one-night count of homeless jumped 47% in two years to more than 4,000 last year and the median house sales price is about $750,000. Deputies boarded up with plywood and a chain link fence was later erected around the property.

Deputies who carried out the eviction “came in like an army for mothers and babies,” said Dominique Walker, one of the mothers who was not arrested. “We have the right to housing. This is just the beginning.”

How permanently the women have changed the conversation around what is an intractable — and statewide — problem remains to be seen. An uptick in the U.S. homeless population last year was driven entirely by a 16% increase in California, federal officials have said, and the governor has pledged to tackle the twin crises of homelessness and deep housing unaffordability.

The Oakland women have said nobody should be homeless when investment companies are buying and fixing up properties to sell at profit.

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