The New York Post is reporting on a taxpayer-funded nonprofit in the Bronx that is giving a crash-course in "squatting."
The group, called "Picture the Homeless," has targeted city-owned buildings in particular. Andres Perez, who "teaches" the course, said, “The best properties are city-owned properties or bank-owned properties...They warehouse these properties. They’re sitting on them.”
The organization has received $240,000 in taxpayer funds over the last five years.
The New York Post explains:
Two weeks ago, board member Andres Perez held a teach-in on how to wrest 'control' of vacant apartments. He called it 'homesteading.'
'The best time to enter a building is in the late hours,' he advised a group of about 20, who gathered in front of the half-empty East New York housing complex Arlington Village.
'You make sure you have your proper tools. You remove the chains and padlock, and then you go in.'
He then led them through the next steps — including filling out a change-of-address form at the post office and setting up utilities. After that, 'nine out of 10 times the courts will allow you to be able to have control of the property,' he said.
However, many legal neighbors of the squatters are outraged.
'I can’t let nobody squat where I live,' said Pete Rolon, 64, a 35-year resident who claimed pimps had grabbed two apartments in the complex. 'There were hookers. They were smoking crack. There were condoms all over the floor. There were hundreds of them.'
He remembers when the complex of 12 two-story, red-brick buildings was filled with families and children playing.
Mohammed Hossain, the super at Arlington, where pads go for $600 to $1,000 per month, said complaints about homeless people breaking in to steal pipes and metal fixtures are common.
'The homeless people, they have no right to be squatting here,' he said. 'If they pay rent, that’s different.'
Residents and taxpayers also aren't happy that the group has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the government. “That’s not right,” said one longtime resident. “That these guys are teaching classes on this — that’s ridiculous.”
The group gets its funding from the City Council, whose spokeswoman replied, “We’re deeply troubled by reports that Picture the Homeless is instructing New Yorkers in how to engage in dangerous and illegal activities. If these reports are in fact true, they call the group’s entire funding into question.”