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By Malaika Jabali, Essence Magazine

In 2019, Dominique Walker joined a group of homeless mothers as they occupied a vacant home in Oakland. The group– who called themselves Moms 4 Housing— made national headlines when sheriff’s deputies descended upon the mothers to evict and arrest them in January 2020, foreshadowing the eviction issues that dramatically surfaced during the pandemic just a few months later.

Many of these stories have sobering conclusions. Evictions affect Black women at a higher rate than any other demographic, often leaving them and their children homeless, in a dangerous, inadequate shelter system or on the streets.

But here’s how Walker, a single mother of two, defied that narrative, leading a movement for fair and affordable housing in California to make widespread, lasting change.

The Moms 4 Housing leader graduated from Tougaloo College in Jackson, MS and then returned home to Oakland.

As she noted in a 2020 interview, “I returned home in April of 2019 to discover that in my absence my family had been displaced and, while I was college educated and fully employed, I could not find permanent housing for myself and two children. Together with several other Black mothers I co-founded Moms4housing to bring attention to the shocking number of homeless families while hundreds of corporate-owned homes lay empty.” 

3. With other mothers, Walker pointed out the crisis of corporate housing

4. Moms 4 Housing occupied a Wedgewood-purchased home in 2019