Activists enter foreclosed Madison home, illegally - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Activists enter foreclosed Madison home, illegally

By Teresa Mackin - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook | Blog

MADISON (WKOW) -- Affordable housing activists took a public press conference to illegal levels Monday afternoon.

It's a movement called Take Back the Land: and it's come to Madison.

This time, the group focused on a foreclosed, vacant home that's been unoccupied for a year on the south side of Madison.

More than a dozen people marched to the duplex, carrying signs and yelling, "Housing is a human right, that's why we stand to fight."

A leader from the national movement, Max Rameau, was on hand to speak, saying, " A house should not serve as a profit center for banks and other corporations."

The group set up a sound system in front of the home, currently owned by Freddie Mac, asking the bank to turn the home over to the public to create more affordable housing.

With police watching nearby, the group even had a man who used to live there before the home was foreclosed on.

He declined to give his name, but said, "If somebody is going to live there, let a family live in this building... They can keep this property up, keep the neighborhood safe, that's all we're asking.

It was a routine press conference until the group picked up pails and scrubbing equipment, and knowingly walking into the vacant home illegally.

They said they knew what they were doing was illegal: but that a different group, Operation Welcome Home, had been trying for three years to find more affordable housing options: and this was the way they hoped to get something done.

Some neighbors watching the scene unfold were visibly upset.

One man, who declined to give his name said, "I thought that was called breaking and entering, but I guess it's okay now... I have to pay rent... Life is tough, that doesn't mean you can just move in."

All the while, police watching the scene unfold, working to contact a regional bank representative: the legal owners.

Police said they need to speak with an owner before acting on anything on private property.

Captain Joe Balles of the South District of Madison, said they were working while the press conference went on to contact the owners and the realtor. He told 27 News if the owner files a trespassing complaint, then the department would proceed accordingly. Until then, the department wrote up an incident report about the activities, as well as checked on the home later in the evening.

In an interesting twist, the realtor told 27 News she has an offer on the home.

Group leaders wouldn't comment when asked if they put so-called squatters in any other Madison home. This action is similar to what we saw last week, where a group literally moved a homeless family into a vacant home. They had to move out because the home was still owned by a local person.

 

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