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‘This is life or death’: homeless families reclaim vacant homes to survive virus outbreak

The Reclaimers, a Los Angeles group, are taking back government-owned properties to give the homeless a chance to stay healthy

     

 

The Guardian - Several Los Angeles families who have been forced to live in cars, shelters and other unsafe situations have seized control of 13 vacant homes owned by the government, with the goal of staying indefinitely – and staying alive.

The takeover comes as California’s homelessness crisis and the escalating coronavirus outbreak have collided to create a catastrophe threatening thousands of lives.

“To me, this is life or death,” said Benito Flores, 64, who has been living out of his van for years and moved into a vacant two-bedroom house on Wednesday. Wearing a face mask and standing inside the dusty home as volunteers cleaned, Flores explained that he is diabetic and at risk of serious illness or worse if he catches Covid-19. “By doing this, I’m giving myself a chance at living and surviving this crisis.”

The homeless residents and their supporters, who have called themselves the Reclaimers, were inspired by Moms 4 Housing, a group of houseless mothers in Oakland who publicly occupied a corporate-owned vacant home for two months. That protest sparked international attention and support from some California lawmakers, and ultimately, the mothers were able to purchase the home.

Read the full article here.

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