Oakland land trust buys house where homeless moms evicted

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Homeless moms who were evicted earlier this year from a vacant San Francisco Bay Area house they occupied say a community land trust has purchased the property and will turn it into transitional housing for other mothers experiencing homelessness.

Members of the activist group, Moms 4 Housing, announced Friday that the three-bedroom home in West Oakland was purchased by the Oakland Community Land Trust from a real estate investment company. The property requires extensive renovation for habitation, the group said.

The land trust purchased the property for $587,500 and closed in May, but the pandemic and planning for repairs delayed a public celebration . The land trust is a nonprofit organization that holds property for the benefit of low-income residents.

Steve King, executive director of the trust, says the house requires extensive repairs, including a new roof and windows. He said his group will work with Moms 4 Housing to figure out a transitional housing program for the property. Money to buy and refurbish the house came from donations and does not include city money, he said.

“We’re excited to be part of it and definitely excited to get the rehab started and finished so the house can be used,” he said.

The group caused a national sensation last year when the moms and their children moved into the empty house in November, partly to protest the methods of speculators who they claim snap up distressed homes and leave them empty despite California’s severe housing shortage and growing numbers of homeless people. They said mothers and children should not be homeless when housing is available.

They were evicted at dawn in January, surrounded by supporters on watch. Video showed one deputy slamming a battering ram against the house’s front door.

The group received widespread support, including from Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who decried the worsening homelessness crisis.

In January, Wedgewood agreed to sell the house to the Oakland Community Land Trust.

The median sales price of a house in Oakland is nearly $900,000, according to Compass real estate.

Moms 4 Housing has vowed to acquire more homes.

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‘I trust vaccines,’ not Trump

Joe Biden on Wednesday said he doesn’t trust President Donald Trump to safely oversee the federal government’s approval and dissemination of a Covid-19 vaccine.

“I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don’t trust Donald Trump,” Biden said during a speech in Wilmington, Delaware.

Trump has repeatedly pledged to “produce a vaccine in record time,” and has suggested that one could be ready shortly before Election Day. That prediction has contradicted the timeline that many health experts have said is realistic.

Several vaccine candidates have entered the final stage of testing in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said earlier this month that states should begin preparing for a “large-scale” distribution of Covid-19 vaccines by Nov. 1 — two days before the presidential election — while the head of the Food and Drug Administration has raised the possibility the agency could use its emergency authority to quickly approve a vaccine before clinical trials end. Those directives have led numerous Trump critics to question whether they were made because of political interference by the White House.

Earlier Wednesday, the director of the CDC said coronavirus vaccines won’t be widely available until mid-2021.

Biden on Wednesday repeated his message that “we can’t allow politics to interfere with the vaccine in any way” and pointed to dubious statements Trump has made in the past that are not backed up by science.

“He doesn’t have any respect for science,” Biden said.

“This is the same guy who said, inject bleach,” he added. “This is the guy who said, if you want to keep hurricanes from getting to the United States, drop a nuclear weapon on them.”

In April, Trump suggested that people should consider an “injection of disinfectant” to beat Covid-19 — an idea that experts immediately rejected as irresponsible and dangerous. In 2019, Axios reported that Trump had, during a meeting with top officials, raised the possibility of using nuclear weapons to destroy hurricanes.

Biden, meanwhile, has repeatedly said that the White House must ensure the public that the coronavirus vaccines are safe and that any decision to approve them is driven by science, not politics.

Those demands have prompted Trump to attack Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., as anti-vaxxers. Harris has said that she would also not solely trust Trump’s word about the safety of any vaccine rolled out before the election.

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