They have no home. The homes have no families due to foreclosure. A group in Cleveland, Ohio is quietly cleaning up the properties and sneaking families into the homes.
The families worry day and night that they will be discovered but a roof over their head is better than living on the streets.
Christopher Jackson, 43, and a group of tradesmen are doing something productive during the recession by cleaning the yards and gutters of foreclosed homes. They are covering up exposed wiring and unbarring windows. Then the group silently helps families that were in shelters learn the squatters life.
Some of those families have managed to use the hand up to get enough money to move into a home that has electricity and running water. Others find a way to get a generator and use gas grills to cook on.
In Cleveland one out of every 13 homes is vacant. The authorities are knocking on about 300 homes a week to hold out eviction notices.
MSN Business reports:
“I know it’s bad all over, but it is very clear that Ohio has something uniquely awful going on and this city is right in the middle of it,” Peter Bellamy, who manages the county’s three-year-old foreclosure prevention program.
“A lot of this is going to be permanent. It’s not like California or Arizona, people aren’t going to come back.”
No one is winning in the process of lost homes and displaced families. The city has higher costs because those families have no where to go but the shelters. The banks can’t sell homes that are neglected. Thieves enter in the black of night to remove plumbing, wiring, cabinets and anything else that is nailed down.
Renters are the ones that pay the hardest. The homes that they were giving their pay checks to are taken by the banks. With little money they haven’t a chance in this recession.
Brian Davis, executive director of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless says that the cycle has put a huge strain on local shelters.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in families in shelters, dramatic,” said Davis, who despite the rising need has had to lay off staff recently because of the sour economy.
“A lot of people who work with the homeless say this is the worst they have ever seen it.”
While other cities are starting to rehabilitate foreclosure homes in Cleveland it’s the homeless that have taken the lead.
“It’s happening more and more and there are even homeless who are acting as real estate agents and moving families into safe properties,” Davis said. “We are seeing desperation lead to some real creative measures.”
Since January 1, 2006 there have been about 45,0000 foreclosure case filings in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. The East Side of Cleveland has been the hardest hit. The verdicts have come through for about 10,000 of those filings, foreclosure.
HUD may not be helping the problem. They are selling homes that the city has already condemned for pennies. One home was sold for $1,500 according to City Councilman Tony Brancatelli but the new owner wasn’t informed that the house had been condemned.
A few weeks later Brancatelli helped the new owner get out of the purchase by persuading HUD to do the right thing.
HUD is responsible for demolishing the homes that are condemned. Instead they are placing ads for the homes with price tags as little as $100.
In the end Brancatelli believes that HUD will make it so that the city is the one that pays the high cost of demolishing the homes.