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Moms 4 Housing Continues To Gain Ground In East Bay Politics

Jonathan McIntosh
Wikipedia Commons

Last November, a collective of homeless and marginally-housed mothers took over a West Oakland House owned by speculators. The mothers were making a statement: take housing from big banks and real estate tycoons and put it back in the hands of Oaklanders. They called themselves Moms 4 Housing.

One year later: two of the organizers hold political office.

Carroll Fife won a City Council position in District 3, which represents parts of West Oakland, Downtown, Uptown, and Lake Merritt. She received about 49% of the vote, beating out two-term incumbent Lynette Gibson McElhaney, who received about 30%.

Fife says she’s ready to make some big shake-ups in the City Council.

Right now, we have a lot of Democrats and Progressives in name only, saying that they really care about community. But nothing ever really changes for the community.

Her campaign focused on pro-tenant regulations and policing reform, and she’s looking for systemic change instead of short-term fixes.

Fife has friends who also made the move from activist to elected official. Moms 4 Housing co-founder Dominique Walker won a spot on Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Board, which now hosts a majority of pro-tenant board members.

Fife knows more reformers who are planning to run for office.

We can concretize the victory that I had, and other people can come with me and behind me. We're working on the infrastructure to be able to duplicate this success.

When Fife joins the City Council, her success will be measured by how well she can effect change with the more moderate policies of other councilmembers and Mayor Libby Schaaf.

David Exumé (he/him/his) is a 2020-2021 Audio Academy Fellow. His reporting interests include music history, immigration, community organizing, and urban planning. He's previously worked at KCRW in Santa Monica and WPRB in Princeton.