[UPDATE BELOW] It's a lovely day for a foreclosure tour, and Occupy Wall Street has taken to East New York to highlight the affects of the continuing housing crisis that continues to cripple the entire country. Our own James Thilman is on the scene, and notes that the crowd has swelled to nearly 400, with neighbors joining the march as it makes its way from one foreclosed home to the next. "We are here in East New York where the rate of foreclosure is 3 times higher than the entirety of Brooklyn and 5 times higher than the state," Minister Patricia Malcolm told the crowd. "Today we are real estate agents…We are going to look for those homes that are unoccupied we are going to rent them out today."
Kendal Jackman, of Picture the Homeless, one of the many groups supporting today's event, described how she came to lose her home:
My landlady took out two subprime mortgages, totaling $775,000. That's more than 2.5 times the value of the home. In February of 2009 my neighbor and I were served with foreclosure papers. For two years my landlady did not pay the mortgage and our home was an ATM for her. On September 21, 2009 I entered the Department of Homeless Services. I am still in the system.
Thilman tells us that there were "almost no police officers" when the march initially began around 1 p.m., but now squad cars are lining the route. City Council members Ydanis Rodriguez and Charles Barron are in attendance, and the group is nearing what appears to be the final home on the tour, where protesters will host a block party for a family that will defy eviction and continue to live in their home.
[UPDATE / 4:10 p.m.] The march has reached its destination, 702 Vermont Street, where a family will reside in a home that has been unoccupied for three years. Alfredo Carrasquillo, Tasha Glasgow, and her two children will be under the watch of Occupy Wall Street's "eviction defense team." "I want to thank the NYPD for all their support. I hope they don't wake me up in my bed at 2 a.m." Carrasquillo half-jokingly told the crowd. Thilman notes that he choked up a bit when speaking to the group.
According to a release, Glasgow and her children, an eight year-old girl with autism and a five year-old boy, previously received a housing voucher through the NYC "Advantage" program in the spring, but it was withdrawn after Mayor Bloomberg enacted budget cuts. Once a few housewarming gifts were passed to the family, Carrasquillo and other volunteers began working to fix up the property.
Thilman reports that the march may make an unscheduled detour to a house that has an eviction notice set for 5 p.m. today.