Making Do in the Belly of the Beast

Thinking Outside the Box by Moving Into One

On a street in Oakland, Calif., a tiny home sits on wheels. The artist Gregory Kloehn, using recycled materials picked up from the streets, made several such homes and gave them to the homeless in the industrial neighborhood near the Port of Oakland.

OCT. 13, 2015 – nytimes.com

OAKLAND, Calif. — This summer, the median rent for a one-bedroom in San Francisco’s cityscape of peaked Victorians soared higher than Manhattan’s, sent skyward by a housing shortage fueled in part by the arrival of droves of newcomers here to mine tech gold.

And so, as the story of such cities goes, the priced-out move outward — in New York City, to Brooklyn and, increasingly, to Queens. For San Franciscans, the rent refuge is here in Oakland, where the rates are increasing as well — so much so that young professionals are living in repurposed shipping containers while the homeless are lugging around coffinlike sleeping boxes on wheels. Continue reading

‘Occupy’ protesters reclaiming foreclosed homes in 20 cities

By David Edwards, rawstory.com, December 6, 2011

Occupy Our Homes protest (Vocal New York)

The 99 percent movement, which has been evicted from many of their encampments across the country, is finding common cause with thousands of homeowners who are also being evicted from their homes.

Even though the movement has often been criticized for a lack of defined goals, Tuesday’s “Occupy Our Homes” action in at least 20 cities makes it clear that they are standing up to banks to reverse foreclosures.

“We’re in the neighborhood in New York City that had the highest number of foreclosure filings in 2010 to send a message that the economy is failing the 99 percent,” Vocal New York organizer Sean Barry told Raw Story from a Brooklyn neighborhood as about 200 protesters chanted in the background.

“We’re here because [there are] a lot of empty buildings owned by Wall Street banks and we’re going to liberate them.”

Tasha Glasgow, the single mother of a 9-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son, was expected to be one of the first occupants of a reclaimed home. Barry said that Glasgow, who had been in and out of the shelter system in New York City, had been slated to get a Section 8 voucher before budget cuts by Mayor Michael Bloomberg put an end to that promise.

“We’ve gained access to the home, and we’ve got the support of the neighbors,” Barry explained. “They’re going to start occupying it. … And then, there’s going to be 24/7 eviction defense by Occupy Wall Street.”

There were over 40 events planned in more than 20 cities Tuesday, but that is just the beginning.

“When it comes to Wall Street’s control over our economy, our democracy and our lives, there’s few better examples than the housing crisis,” Barry noted. “Occupy Wall Street is going to continue to support this national Occupy Our Homes campaign, and both defend homeowners who are being threatened with eviction due to foreclosure, and to move families that need homes into vacant buildings that banks are just sitting on.”

Racial Predatory Loans Fueled U.S. Housing Crisis

A neighborhood in Denton, Texas

By Nick Carey

Oct 4, 2010

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Predatory lending aimed at racially segregated minority neighborhoods led to mass foreclosures that fueled the U.S. housing crisis, according to a new study published in the American Sociological Review.

Predatory lending typically refers to loans that carry unreasonable fees, interest rates and payment requirements.

Poorer minority areas became a focus of these practices in the 1990s with the growth of mortgage-backed securities, which enabled lenders to pool low- and high-risk loans to sell on the secondary market, Professor Douglas Massey of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and PhD candidate Jacob Rugh, said in their study.

The financial institutions likely to be found in minority areas tended to be predatory — pawn shops, payday lenders and check cashing services that “charge high fees and usurious rates of interest,” they said in the study. Continue reading