Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Housing Liberation Movement

The house on Jane Ave. where squatter Gordan Yoesting died in a fire last October. (Photo by Bruce Edwards/The Flint Journal)

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.

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.
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.


  1. well, ya gotta hand it to Mr. Pegee for his initiative. maybe the DOC will knock off some time for good behavior...unless he gets popped again for like renting out other cells.

  2. VVürstsydæ VVårlørdæApril 19, 2009 at 8:16 AM

    Squatting in Flint? C'mon, even the most destitute person can afford a 30 year mortgage on a $2000 house.

    Blight is creeping well beyond the city limits, and not just in Beecher. Mayfair, Lavelle Rd. area, South Burton, and parts of Kearsley are looking as rough as parts of the city.

  3. I wonder what the repo man in Roger And Me would think of this new movement.

  4. "some advocacy groups have organized civil disobedience actions in which borrowers or renters refuse to leave homes after foreclosure"

    That's a crime, no matter how you dress it up with leftist mumbo jumbo.

  5. and, capitalism is organized crime! if people need housing, and the capitalist system will not either provide the housing itself or provide employment so that people can buy or rent housing, then i do not see why people should not take what they need, especially if all the system is doing is allowing the housing to deteriorate.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at