Saturday, February 9, 2013


File:ParcGuellOkupas.jpgTRNN Correspondent Hassan Ghani looks at the real people, lives, and philosophies behind squatting in the U.K. where there are an estimated 700,000 empty properties and half a million hidden homeless. Squatters often improve properties and keep crime at bay in neighborhoods with abandoned buildings.  Still, last year, the government criminalized squatting in residential abodes with occupants facing 6 month prison sentences.  It is presently considering the same for commercial buildings in a campaign spearheaded by Mike Weatherley, a Conservative Party member of the U.K. Parliament.

In the video piece below, Mr. Hassan speaks with squatters in the London area, dispelling some of the myths about this diverse group of individuals asserting their basic human right to housing.  He visits some of the homes they have created together, while also giving Mr. Weatherley the opportunity to express his views.

The average rent in London is about 1,300 pounds, which converts at the time of this posting to 2,052 U.S. dollars.  Like the U.S., renters often find themselves facing costs easily gobbling more than 1/2 of an individual's already low wages or income.  As the cost of housing continues to rise, and property is increasingly concentrated in fewer hands, homelessness is growing - and along with unemployment or increasing difficulties making ends meet while working.

According to wiki, there are an estimated 1 billion squatters on this planet, translating to about 1 in 7 people.  


Photo credit/top, courtesy of wikipedia/photographer: Mick Stevenson/famous Barcelona squat house, Casa de Okupas, Parc Guell, 2007

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