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‘Letting these houses sit empty is not ethical’

by Tribuno Del Pueblo  |  Issue: May / June 2011

“Just letting these houses sit empty while there are people freezing to death on the streets is not ethical,” Rachel Nartin told the Financial Times in February.

Nartin and four other homeless people  have been squatting in a vacant house in Rochester, N.Y. They share the expenses for utilities and repairs.

Rochester itself has taken a different route with its abandoned houses than other old industrial cities. Instead of tearing them down, it is buying and repairing them, then selling them to lower-income families.

Any third or fourth grader will tell you that the solution to people being homeless is to “let them use the empty houses.” They haven’t yet been taught that it’s a naive idea.

But it’s true that any decent society would treasure its people and its housing stock and would think it was bizarre to kick people out of their homes, leaving the houses empty and the people on the street.

Right now, Wall Street is doing just that — it’s a measure of just how immoral and dysfunctional that society in the U.S. has become. It’s a society dominated by Wall Street and by a federal government Wall Street more and more openly controls.

Yet despite its apparent control, Wall Street is running scared. It’s afraid that people will see clearly that it is manipulating the housing crisis for its own benefit. When it became known that the big banks were foreclosing on mortgages illegally, there was a great public outcry. Now newspapers report that the big banks want a quick settlement of that to “avoid reigniting anger.”

Wall Street fears that the squatters’, movement which Nartin and her friends are part of will grow. And it fears that the majority of the country, even worse, might throw its support behind them — and might change the rules permanently, once and for all.

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