Wednesday, August 19, 2009

From Poder Magazine, August 2009
Gimme Foreclosure
Or maybe we'll just take one of those ghetto houses.

By Kirk Nielsen

Thanks to the combination of a historic glut of high-end condominiums with the worst recession since the Great Depression, Greater Miami may one day lay claim to inventing a new real estate hybrid: the affordable luxury condo. But we’re already making minor real estate history, owing to the convergence of two other socioeconomic phenomena—rampant home foreclosures and ever-flourishing homelessness. Take Back the Land, a group of about 15 Miamians, has turned calamity into opportunity, though, by carefully moving homeless families into foreclosed houses in and around Liberty City and Little Haiti.

“For us the big issue is that it’s morally indefensible to have vacant homes,” says TBTL director Max Rameau. “The United States is signatory to at least seven treaties which state that housing is a human right.”

Rameau likes to cite a couple of statistics. There were 4,700 foreclosure-related evictions in Miami-Dade County in the first quarter of 2008 and about 4,500 homeless people at the time. Are you thinking what he’s thinking? Yep, we could have ended homelessness here by now. “The problem with that,” he says, “is that no one gets rich by moving poor people into houses for free.”

And so they squat. Read on.

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