Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Occupy Our Homes: Far From Wall Street, Protesters Find A New Focus

First Posted: 12/ 7/11 12:39 PM ET Updated: 12/ 7/11 12:56 PM ET

 ROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Since losing hold of Zuccotti Park skeptics have wondered how Occupy Wall Street would remain focused. On Tuesday, far from the skyscrapers of Manhattan's financial district, protesters gave answer, sharpening focus from a broadly anti-wall street sentiment to take action on the nation's foreclosure crisis.

The new campaign, Occupy Our Homes, teams up with a number of community groups long-focused on housing issues and homelessness. It also comes with a specific agenda: putting homeless families into the millions of homes that have been taken over by banks and sat empty since the housing bubble popped, and helping those families on the verge of foreclosure resist eviction.

In the last three weeks, Occupiers have been struggling to find a new space in Manhattan's heavily-policed financial district to occupy; out in East New York, Brooklyn, there is plenty of free space. The neighborhood where protesters and community activists convened Tuesday afternoon has the highest foreclosure rate in the city -- some 16.8 per 1,000 homes receiving filings last year -- and the streets are packed with foreclosed homes and vacant lots ringed with barbed wire.

Since 2006, more than 4 million American homes have been taken over by banks, according to RealtyTrac, a California-based real estate data firm. A map of foreclosures in East New York on RealtyTrac's website appears as spotted as chicken pox.


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