Life in the Time of Displacement


My story starts back about five years ago. I lived at my last address for 18 years, but lived in Oakland for 36. While living there, I paid my taxes and sent my children to school. As of recently, I am unable to find affordable housing. With that said, I have been essentially living with my dog in a car for the past three months due to the lack of affordable places in this area.

Mustafa Solomon and his dog Vegas

It’s been a struggle being displaced from my family. I had to separate from my daughter because I did not want to subject her to the reality of not having a place to stay.

I have been working diligently to try and find a place to live in spite of these obstacles. It has been preventing me from focussing on my current job situation as well as continuing my art. It’s been difficult maintaining involvement in my work doing grassroots organizing here in Oakland. I can’t be as active as I would like to be, and it’s taking a toll on my well being.
The application process is also tiring. I have to continue to pay for application fees and credit checks only to be told that the properties have breed specific requirements that prevent me from having my dog there. Because of her size and breed, it is perceived as a problem.

However, I refuse to put her in a shelter, because I know her quality of life would drastically diminish. She has been a part of our family for the past 10 years. She has been raised with us since she was a four -month old puppy.
All of the leads that I have been given were nothing but dead ends and situations that had gone sour. Still, I’m hoping that there is someone out there who can help me become whole again.

It’s really been both emotionally and physically draining living out here like this, being separated from my daughter since all of our family resides on the other side of the country. I’m not looking for handouts or special favors. I just want to be able to get my life back.


Author Profile

I have been a professional photographer for over 30 years. I am also a videographer, a lover of jazz, sports (boxing, basketball, and football), and fashion. I am a native of Newark, New Jersey. I am one of 13 children who were raised to always try to achieve our best and to give back to others in the process. Currently, I am a grassroots community activist and a member of many organizations such as Causa Justa/Just Cause, Black Lives Matter, and the East Oakland Building Healthy Communities initiative. My activism is centered on social justice issues, especially in the communities that are supposed to represent Black and Brown people.


  1. Hello Mustafa,
    Thank you for sharing this difficult story. My name is Kelsey Abkin and I am an undergraduate Journalism minor at UC Berkeley. I, along with my group, am doing a final project outlining gentrification and its repercussions in Oakland. We are wondering if you would be able to sit down with us in the upcoming week for a brief (20-30 min) interview.
    It would be sincerely appreciated. I can be contacted through email at
    Thank you,
    Kelsey Abkin

  2. Keep up the good fight family. Thank you for this personal story im sending you all the good energy and vibes i can muster.

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