As a working mother who has experienced homelessness firsthand, Dominique Walker is running for the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board to be a “part of the change” in providing accessible housing.
After earning her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Tougaloo College in Mississippi, Walker moved to Oakland where she experienced homelessness with her children while working full time. Seeing the housing situation in the Bay Area, Walker co-founded Moms 4 Housing, a group of homeless and marginally housed mothers advocating for change.
“We want California and the U.S. to know that housing is a human right,” Walker said. “We plan to keep organizing and pushing for policy change and doing the right actions and campaigns to get mothers and children off the streets.”
According to Walker, as far as access to housing, Berkeley is challenged by problems of gentrification and racism. The homeless population in the Bay Area is largely Black, displaced from housing by “corporate greed,” Walker added.
By running for the rent board, Walker hopes to protect small landlords and tenants against corporations who are getting bailed out. She aims to represent the most vulnerable populations, such as the working class, who are unable to pay large deposits for housing.
“I feel as though my position from being homeless with my children, I know the experience,” Walker said. “I went through the avenues, the credit reports, the large deposits and I think that resonates with a lot of working-class people.”
According to Walker, there are four times as many empty homes as there are people experiencing homelessness. She said she thinks the Bay Area’s “housing crisis” is not caused by a shortage of housing, but is instead a matter of finding representation and access to housing.
Right now, she thinks it is a “unique” time in terms of housing, which presents itself as an opportunity to create a change. The Bay Area has a chance to lead the way in responding to housing, especially as some people are on the verge of being evicted, Walker said.
Rent board chair Paola Laverde acknowledged Walker in her “bold stand” to provide affordable housing to women and is excited for the “dynamism” and “enthusiasm” she has brought to the campaign.
“She’s getting involved in the system because that’s the only way you can change the system, so I’m very happy for her to be running,” Laverde said. “It’s not often you get someone who’s put their life on the line to run for office.”
If elected, Walker said she is looking forward to doing all that she can for the people.