MIAMI — Max Rameau delivers his sales pitch like a pro. “All tile floor!” he says during a recent showing. “And the living room, wow! It has great blinds.” But in nearly every other respect, he is unlike any real estate agent you’ve ever met. He is unshaven, drives a beat-up car and wears grungy cut-off sweat pants. He also breaks into the homes he shows. And his clients don’t have a dime for a down payment. Rameau is an activist who has been executing a bailout plan of his own around Miami’s empty streets: He is helping homeless people illegally move into foreclosed homes. “We’re matching homeless people with people-less homes,” he said with a grin.
Now this is the kind of Robin Hood love that needs to happen so Americans can start getting their priorities straight. Check this.
Rameau and a group of like-minded advocates formed Take Back the Land, which also helps the new “tenants” with second hand furniture, cleaning supplies and yard upkeep. So far, he has moved six families into foreclosed homes and has nine on a waiting list.Take ten minutes to watch this documentary of what this is about:
“I think everyone deserves a home,” said Rameau, who said he takes no money from his work with the homeless. “Homeless people across the country are squatting in empty homes. The question is: Is this going to be done out of desperation or with direction?”
With the housing market collapsing, squatting in foreclosed homes is believed to be on the rise around the country. But squatters usually move in on their own, at night, when no one is watching. Rarely is the phenomenon as organized as Rameau’s effort to “liberate” foreclosed homes.
Florida — especially the Miami area, with its once-booming condo market — is one of the hardest-hit states in the housing crisis, largely because of overbuilding and speculation. In September, Florida had the nation’s second-highest foreclosure rate, with one out of every 178 homes in default, according to Realty Trac, an online marketer of foreclosed properties. Only Nevada’s rate was higher.
Like other cities, Miami is trying to ease the problem. Officials launched a foreclosure prevention program to help homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage, with loans of up to $7,500 per household.
The city also recently passed an ordinance requiring owners of abandoned homes — whether an individual or bank — to register those properties with the city so police can better monitor them.
Speaking of homelessness, the author of this blog contacted me and said, "Give me some link!" You got it, my friend.
This is Kevin Barbieux, The Homeless Guy, whose homeless home is Nashville. He blogs about what life is like being homeless.
I am chronically homeless, having experienced several episodes of homelessness since the age of 21 - spending about half my adult life on the streets. On this blog I write about my experiences, and my opinions and knowledge of homeless life. You can email me at thehomelessguy (At) gmail dot com.Folks, it is nearer than you think.