Miami New Times Squatters Don’t cry. Just move into one of those empty homes around the corner. By Natalie O’Neill
November 20, 2008
Her knee-length dreadlocks wrapped in a green cloth, Cassy hoists her two-year-old daughter up on a hip and shuffles in her socks into her big, clean bedroom. “This house is a castle,” says the slender, soft-skinned former university teaching assistant, shaking her head in disbelief. “I’ve never had a walk-in closet … and all this space.”
Two months ago, Cassy (not her real name) was homeless, out in the rain with her four kids. Now she has a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, sky-blue house on a tree-lined street in Miami’s Buena Vista neighborhood. She takes warm showers, cooks vegan dinners, and watches the news on a small, fuzzy TV screen. The only catch: The house isn’t hers. Cassy is a squatter and, at any moment, could be arrested for trespassing, even burglary.
Not everybody in Miami-Dade County is crying over this year’s 40,342 foreclosed properties. Cassy is part of a small, well-executed movement by activists at Take Back the Land to relocate homeless families into empty houses and abandoned government-owned buildings.
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