Friday, February 13, 2009
This is the first recent photo to have crossed my desk with an unmistakable Great Depression look and it's a little bit haunting. Check that. It's very haunting. Disturbing, actually.
It's as if the boogieman has been kept at bay for 75 years and is now returning in what, more and more each day, appears to be a worst case scenario for the U.S. economy along with the rest of the world.
It won't be long before the growing lines outside of food banks in major cities will be photographed in black-and-white too.
A few excerpts from the corresponding story in the Minnesota Independent which happens to have a title that is, perhaps, even more evocative than the picture above:
Homeless taking over foreclosed houses for Valentine’s DayGet ready for a lot more photos like the one above.
While delivering a where’s-the-love message on Valentine’s Day may seem like a gimmick, an action by homeless advocates to be announced this weekend is anything but a stunt, according to its organizer. On Saturday, Cheri Honkala of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign will reveal to members of the media its long-running project to find housing for homeless people in some of the many foreclosed and vacant homes on Minneapolis’ North Side and South Side.
I reached Honkala by phone this afternoon, minutes after Poor People’s Campaign members were removed from a house and given a citation by Minneapolis police. She says that currently 12 families are using abandoned or vacant homes as their own right now. And she’s welcoming more. Families in need can go to PPEHRC’s office in South Minneapolis’ Sabbathani Center, she says, and some sort of accommodations will be found. What happens from there?
“First, we will try to utilize city services – generally, that’ll take five minutes because they don’t really exist,” she says. Then, they may be housed temporarily at the homes of PPEHRC members. “From there, they’ll go to a takeover house. As far as we’re concerned, there are thousands of empty houses. Not all of them are in that bad of shape and we’ll just borrow them until the city can tell us where these families will live.”
The group’s goals are many: They want to find housing for families now living in cars, shelters or on the street — and there are hundreds of homes sitting vacant across the city. They want to raise awareness about the problems of affordable housing and homelessness. More tangibly, they’re seeking a city moratorium on foreclosures, short-sales and evictions. And they’re willing to get arrested if it brings them closer to achieving their goals.