Occupy Atlanta move homeless family into bank owned home | News
ATLANTA, Ga. -- Thursday night Michelene Meusa and Renika Wheeler moved into a new home.
The problem is it doesn't belong to them.
"This actually happens to be a better one than some of the ones in the neighborhood," mused Meusa as she walked through the structure on Windsor Street in Southwest Atlanta.
The house is one of many in the Pittsburgh community of Atlanta that's been vacant for months. So with the help of Occupy Our Homes Atlanta, the couple and their two young children simply moved in.
"We're one set that has been given by God this opportunity to take one back from the bank," said Wheeler. "The bank is so busy taking from others."
For Occupy Our Homes it's part of a radical new strategy to put homeless people into empty houses.
"It's either going to get stripped or bought by an out-of-town investor, and we think that there's a better use for it," said Occupy's Shab Bashiri.
Along with the chaotic protests and arrests of its members, the Occupy movement has also seen success. In fact, Thursday was the first anniversary of the first home they saved from foreclosure. That's why a member of that family was on hand to support the couple.
"It was very important for me to be here because they have two kids and they were homeless," said Carmen Pittman whose family won back their home in the Old Fourth Ward from foreclosure with Occupy's help.
As a legal matter, the occupation of the home comes with great risk. But As a practical matter, some applaud the logic.
"Moving people from the street to a house like this makes great sense, and I'm glad to see it," said State senator Vincent Fort who added that people in need taking over vacant houses is as old as the nation itself and as "American as apple pie."
The group believes others are likely to follow suit.
"It's time for people to stand up," said Joe Beasley of the Homeless Task Force. "So we're standing here, and then we're going to move abroad."
Atlanta Police say they will not take any action unless there's a formal complaint from the bank. There was no comment late Thursday from the institution, but among those eager to talk to the bank officials is Occupy Our Houses. They want to make a deal for the home. They believe if the bank donates it to a local non-profit everyone will win.
Meanwhile the group will start to move furniture into the home and turn on the electricity.
"I'm happy for my home," said one of the couple's children. "And I hope that my whole family gets one."