Squatters Find Refuge in Foreclosed Homes
Activists move homeless families into bank-owned properties
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2009 7:34 AM CDT
An abandoned home lies empty in the residential neighborhood of Brightmoor in Detroit.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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(Newser) – Advocacy groups around the country frustrated by the lack of affordable housing and the surplus of empty properties are moving homeless families into foreclosed houses, reports the New York Times reports. Groups like Miami's Take Back the Land screen "tenants" for mental illness and drug problems and require them to earn "sweat equity" by maintaining the homes.

Squatters can last up to a year in empty properties, said the director of a Minnesota group, whose members liken the movement to “a modern-day underground railroad" for the homeless. The groups say overwhelmed police departments tend not to crack down on squatters and that neighbors in areas dotted with empty homes are often supportive—especially when the alternative is less organized, more destructive squatters.