Chicago’s Homeless Freeze As Thousands of Buildings are Empty, Unused, Wasted

People struggling without shelter have frozen to death during the dangerously cold conditions in Chicago and across the US. Some of the bodies have yet to be found, tucked away where they last fought painfully to stay warm when temperatures dropped below negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some of the 80,000 homeless people in Chicago can be found huddled outside of empty offices, curled up next to doorways, in a desperate effort to escape the elements  and inches away from life saving heat, but locked out. Thousands of bank owned homes sit empty, entire buildings vacant, and the solution is obvious.

Finland has managed to essentially eliminate homelessness by providing housing immediately to people without homes. Finland is the only country in Europe that has had the number of people who are homeless decline in recent years. This option may not be available to the good folks in the US and elsewhere, but it is only because the people making those decisions don’t find value in providing homes to the homeless.

In order to solve this problem communities may need to takeover these properties. Cities in the US have dealt with people who are homeless as a problem they solve, at best, by buying them bus tickets out of town, out of sight, out of mind. Bus tickets are at least better than the other tactics of criminalization and victimization often deployed.

The only way to solve the homeless crisis may very well be for communities to take direct action. To takeover empty housing with homeless people, take over the empty buildings, the empty lots and taking over whatever else is necessary. Governments are making a choice whenever a homeless person dies on the street, they are choosing not to save these people, it is a choice that communities don’t have to accept.



Photo: “Chicago winter.” by Walter Lesus is licensed under CC BY 2.0