The collapse of the real estate bubble exacerbated a problem that some older mid-western cities like Cleveland faced in that decreasing population had left many homes empty. Since the real estate bubble resulted in the ownership of many homes being held by shell companies that were hard to trace, these building feel into disrepair and became eyesores since no one was being held responsible for their upkeep. This led to the problem of urban blight and some cities have tried to solve it by demolishing the buildings.
Mark Naymik is one of the few feature writers for the Plain Dealer worth reading and he had an interesting story of a homeless man and his two dogs who became squatters in such a tiny empty home. But he turns out to be a responsible ‘tenant’ who is a good neighbor, clearing the snow, sharing the vegetables he grows with people who need it, keeps an eye out for trouble and calls the police when he notices anything amiss, and even pays property tax on a place he does not own. The man suggests that rather than such homes being torn down as the city plans to do, it may be possible to partially solve two problems at once, homelessness and abandoned properties.
I don’t think it will happen, sadly. There are just too many problems involved in implementing this on a larger scale. But as a one-off story, it is a heartwarming one.