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Feb 24 2014

Squatter becomes a model resident

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.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    jamessweet

    Yeah, the logistics are a disaster. Which is really sad, because if there were a way to make it happen…. Everybody wins.

  2. 2
    Leo Buzalsky

    Are there really too many problems implementing it? Have you heard about Utah’s program? I had heard about this on The Young Turks a few weeks ago, but I’ll post some links that I just found from a Google search that look informative:

    Slate – Republican State Gives Free Houses to Moochers, Cuts Homelessness by 74 Percent
    What appears to be the Utah state government’s website on the program

  3. 3
    sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    It used to be the law in the UK that if someone occupied and maintained a property for a certain number of years without the owner challenging them, they owned it. It may still be the law, but- if it is- that will probably change

  4. 4
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    My ass there’s too many problems. There’s only one problem, although it’s a doozy: jackass greedheads. There’s absolutely no reason the city shouldn’t be able to claim those homes under some type of public nuisance law and then utilize them as part of existing anti-homeless programs.

  5. 5
    astrosmashley

    There aren’t any logistical problems. Just a paper trail of greed and corruption by those whose opinions on the matter should be seen as laughable and worthless.

    end rant.

    Astrosmash

  6. 6
    astrosmashley

    @Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    arg! ya beat me to it…Amen brother!

    They may say we’re naive, but why the hell do we continue to look to sociopaths and parasitic con-artists on how best to run a society of 350 million people?!

  7. 7
    scenario

    If the owners don’t pay the taxes, the city can take them. What happens now in most states is that the city holds tax sales where anyone can bid to pay the taxes. The owner then has a limited amount of time to pay the person back with interest. If they do not, the person who paid the taxes can take the house.

    Why not have the same system but give people who want to actually live in the house the first shot?

  8. 8
    baryogenesis

    The city I’ve lived in for several decades has owned housing, allocating it to families in need at a reasonable rent (with a long waiting list as you can imagine). Recently, there has been a shift to a right-of-centre bias, esp. since amalgamation of conservative suburbs, causing City Council to decide to sell off much of said housing. There has been a problem of poor maintenance, certainly not up to city standards, by the landlords—the City. It would cost many hundreds of millions to bring these properties up to reasonable living conditions, so the right-leaning administration has decided to sell off much of the property (at discount prices). Oh, BTW, guess which side the mayor and his brother backs?–> divest all public housing . ( Rob Ford.) It can be complicated, but surely there’s a way out of this mess w/o fucking the needy.

  9. 9
    shash

    It used to be the law in the UK that if someone occupied and maintained a property for a certain number of years without the owner challenging them, they owned it. It may still be the law, but- if it is- that will probably change

    It’s called Adverse possession, and it’s a really ancient common-law right, so applicable (among other places) both in the US and UK. It requires “open and notorious” possession of the land without permission of the owner continuously for X years. In the US, payment of property taxes is specifically stated as a grounds for claiming possession. I think it’s quite possible that someone is advising this guy on how to go about it…

    From Wiki,

    Adverse possession exists to cure potential or actual defects in real estate titles by putting a statute of limitations on possible litigation over ownership and possession. Because of the doctrine of adverse possession, a landowner can be secure in title to his land. Otherwise, long-lost heirs of any former owner, possessor or lien holder of centuries past could come forward with a legal claim on the property. The doctrine of adverse possession prevents this. This means the law may be used to reward a person who possesses the land of another for a requisite period of time. Failure of a landowner to exercise and defend his property rights for a certain period may result in the permanent loss of the landowner’s interest in the property. In economic terms, adverse possession encourages and rewards productive use of land.

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