New York City Sells 11 Buildings to Squatters for $11

NYC Gives 11 Buildings to Squatters
U.S. National – AP | Tuesday August 20th, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) – The city has sold 11 apartment buildings on the Lower East Side for $1 a piece to a nonprofit developer, which will turn them over to squatters, many of whom have lived there illegally for years.

The deal reverses the city’s long-standing policy. For nearly two decades, the city has routinely evicted squatters.

Under the deal completed Monday, the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board will pass ownership of 167 apartments in the buildings to the squatters, said Carol Abrams, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

“The agreement is a pragmatic solution to a long-standing issue on the Lower East Side,” Abrams said. “The expectation is that these buildings will be decent and affordable living spaces for residents in the neighborhood.”

Squatters ? poor families, runaway anarchist teen-agers, or housing advocates ? began moving into the abandoned buildings after the city took them in foreclosure proceedings, often fixing plumbing and structural problems.

In 1995, the city mobilized more than 150 police officers, firefighters and emergency medical workers and used helicopters and an armored personnel carrier to execute eviction orders for many of the buildings. The evictions took all day and some people were injured.

The squatters countered in court that their presence was legal. Because they had openly occupied the buildings for more than 10 years, they said, they owned the buildings under the doctrine of “adverse possession.”

A judge agreed, and barred the city from kicking squatters out.

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