NY Post: Occupiers home free

New York Post – Occupiers home free: Squatters insist they boost property value

By JENNIFER BAIN and LEONARD GREENE | Last Updated: 7:14 AM, December 8, 2011

Protesters who helped a homeless family move into a foreclosed home in Brooklyn insist their takeover will actually increase property values.

The demonstrators and the new squatters — a family of four struggling to make ends meet — said they will remove debris and rotted drywall from the two-story house on Vermont Street before bringing in volunteer contractors to make repairs.

The new tenants said they hope to have heat and hot water in the next several days, but they did not say how they’d make that happen.

“Neighbors are really excited because we’re improving and increasing the value of this home and therefore the neighborhood,” said protester Max Berger, 26, who is standing guard against a possible police eviction.

“The house was empty for so long and the previous owner illegally divided up the house and rented it out like a boarding house,” he added.

The takeover of the vacant home was part of the latest phase of the persistent Occupy Wall Street movement.

Protesters across the country are bringing their noisy, pesky fight indoors with plans to take over foreclosed homes and stay in them for months.

The new campaign — called Occupy Our Homes — began Tuesday and has given some organizers a temporary reprieve from the cold.

After a demonstration through East New York, carrying signs reading “Affordable housing for the 99 percent,” the group stopped at a vacant home on Vermont Street where Alfredo Carrasquillo, 27, moved in with his two kids and their mother.

Carrasquillo, an organizer with VOCAL-NY, one of the community groups involved in the march, said his family had been in and out of shelters for months.

“We will fight for housing because it’s our right to have a place to live,” Carrasquillo said. “We said this is the perfect opportunity to get the community together and say, ‘We’re not talking this anymore.’ ”

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