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Unrest

Squatting as a last resort

As the number of foreclosed homes grows in the United States, so do the numbers of people who are left without a home. Most of them cannot afford buying or renting a new house, and so they resort to squat, their own house or another one. This may not be a bad situation for a city, as the squatters prevent a suburb or a neighbourhood to deteriorate, but not every city council thinks this way.

In an excellent article in Slate, Eduardo Peñalver briefly reviews the history of squatting as a need (not as a political act) in the United States and explains why the current economical crisis is leading to another boom in squatting and what are local governments doing about it.

According to the Census Bureau, about 15 percent of housing units in the United States were vacant during the last quarter of 2008. That’s 19 million homes sitting idle, largely in the hands of banks. The difference between the 1970s and today is that the crisis last time was focused on the urban centers, while this time around the suburbs are the site of the greatest mismatch between people without homes and homes without occupants.