The Associated Press
CLEVELAND_The nation’s foreclosure crisis has led to a painful irony for homeless people: On any given night they are outnumbered in some cities by vacant houses. Some street people are taking advantage of the opportunity by becoming squatters.
Foreclosed homes often have an advantage over boarded-up and dilapidated houses abandoned because of rundown conditions: Sometimes the heat, lights and water are still working.
“That’s what you call convenient,” said James Bertan, 41, an ex-convict and self-described “bando,” or someone who lives in abandoned houses.
While no one keeps numbers of below-the-radar homeless finding shelter in properties left vacant by foreclosure, homeless advocates agree the locations – even with utilities cut off – would be inviting to some. There are risks for squatters, including fires from using candles and confrontations with drug dealers, prostitutes, copper thieves or police.