With an abundance of vacant housing, the Flint area has been fertile ground for squatters seeking shelter in homes they don't own.
"It's (happening) a lot more out there than people want to know about," Mt. Morris Township Supervisor Paul Long told The Flint Journal's Shena Abercrombie last fall.
"And where are they going to go? The shelters are full. We don't see a whole bunch of people sleeping in the grates because they're finding these homes."
Agreed Dan Kildee, county treasurer and head of the Land Bank: "It's been a problem, and it's increasing because we're getting more structures in tax foreclosures than we've ever had before."
Now John Leland of The New York Times is reporting that advocacy groups are coordinating organized squatting efforts in response to the foreclosure crisis.
Michael Stoops, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, said about a dozen advocacy groups around the country were actively moving homeless people into vacant homes — some working in secret, others, like Take Back the Land, operating openly.All this seems like another reminder that the Great Recession is giving large swaths of the country a taste of what Flint has endured for decades.
In addition to squatting, some advocacy groups have organized civil disobedience actions in which borrowers or renters refuse to leave homes after foreclosure.The groups say that they have sometimes received support from neighbors and that beleaguered police departments have not aggressively gone after squatters.