Cindy Rodriguez is the Urban Policy reporter for New York Public Radio.
Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, who took over a Brooklyn house in foreclosure since 2008 have yet to be kicked out of the property. But they haven't been able to fix up the place yet, either.
It's been nearly 2 weeks since the protesters moved in. The group’s plan was to renovate the house and then turn it over to a homeless family. But according to activists, the NYPD threatened to evict them for doing construction without proper permits. The repairs are now on hold and it’s unclear when the family will be able to move in.
Community organizer, Alfredo Carrasquillo, has been staying at the house. It’s his two kids and their mother that were expected to move into the property once it was habitable. He said before the group took over the house there was drug use and other illegal activity going on at the property in East New York.
“And NYPD has not once made a big fuss or stink about it and try to come in there and do something about it,” Carrasquillo said. “But when a family tries to come in and fix up a home that they could live in and work with the community, all of a sudden there is an issue.”
The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment. When asked whether it would seek to remove the activists, lender, Bank of America, stuck to its original statement: “The property has not completed foreclosure and Bank of America is not the legal owner of the property.”
Community organizers say they are committed to staying. According to Carrasquillo, mold and debris have been removed from the house, about a dozen people sleep there each night and the family next door is sharing its electricity. The group is also using water from a hose in the backyard.
And just like at Zuccotti Park, Carrasquillo said the public is helping to feed activists by paying for food deliveries from local restaurants. “Last night, it was like a big order of beef and broccoli and a big order of fried rice.”
Carrasquillo said the so called “Occupy our Homes” movement is not just about helping his own family but all those who can’t afford a place to live.