Yesterday, with the help of housing activists and Occupy Wall Street protesters, a homeless New York family with two children took possession of a Bank of America-owned property at 702 Vermont Street in East New York. According to community residents, the home, which had been foreclosed upon and remained vacant for over three years, was maintained by a neighbor and served as a place for other homeless New Yorkers to seek shelter from the elements. A march through the community intending to shine a spotlight on the staggering foreclosure rates in East New York—nearly five times the statewide average—culminated on Vermont Street with housewarming party held in honor of the family.

Alfredo Carrasquillo, 27, Tasha Glasgow, 30, and their children—Tanisha, 9, and Alfredo, Jr., 5—have been relying on the generosity of family and friends for several years, unable to find permanent affordable housing. Denied by the failed Advantage housing program, Carrasquillo, who is employed as a Community Organizer by Vocal NY, finally agreed to take an unorthodox approach for the sake of his family. "The goal is to get this house up and running, to claim it as our own," he said. "I'm moving in tonight, but my family won't until I find it a suitable place for children to live," he went on. "I think people forget that New York isn't just Manhattan. There are thousands of families just like mine who are struggling to get by in New York."

By 5:00 p.m., gas generators supplied the home with electricity, but the house still lacked running water and heat. Volunteers from Occupy Wall Street, Vocal NY, NY Communities for Change, and Community Voices Heard, worked feverishly to clear debris and tidy the interior while some hanging strands of colored lights in the windows and erected a Christmas tree in the front yard.

Glasgow was raised in Brooklyn, but has spent most of the past decade in and out of the shelter system throughout the city. After being awarded a Section 8 voucher in the Spring of 2011 that would have allowed her move into subsidized housing, it was withdrawn due to budget cuts. "Thank you very much. I'm kind of shy. But thank you, thank you very much," she said tearfully, addressing several hundred people surrounding the front of the home. Her children are "the most important thing," she said. She views a permanent home as an opportunity to find long-term school enrollment for her children. The couple's nine-year-old, Tanisha, was born with autism. Carrasquillo said Tanisha has always been in school, but that the constant change in routine takes a toll on his daughter. "We are doing the best we can. People don't realize that it's one thing to be black and in poverty. It's another to be black, in poverty, and to have a child with a disability. We just want what is best for our children. And that starts with a home," he said.

An Occupy Wall Street organizer, Beka Economopoulous said, "We've moved this family into a Bank of America-owned property." Signaling that the placement of the Carrasquillo-Glasgow family would be the first of many acts of civil disobedience on behalf of homeless New Yorkers, she smiled, "This is just the beginning."

As a part of a national day of action coordinated by the "Occupy" movement and housing activists in some 25 cities, the movement—formerly limited to tents in city parks—took its message indoors, occupying foreclosed homes in cities such as Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Seattle. The Huffington Post reports that similar "housewarming parties" were held at abandoned and foreclosed homes on Chicago's Northwest Side. "I believe what we are doing is right, because people need a place to live," Sabrina Morey, who recently moved into the abandoned building in Chicago, told HuffPo. "There should be no vacant homes anywhere."