Degree Year

1996

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Sociology

Advisor(s)

Daphne John

Keywords

Squatting, Homestead, Urban squatting, City, Housing, Crisis

Abstract

From introduction: Urban squatting is the unauthorized occupation of empty buildings. Squatting is usually thought to be a Third World phenomenon associated with urbanization, poverty, and rural-urban migration. However, there is a history of squatting in the US and Europe as well. Squatting has been reported in New York, San Francisco, Newark, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Los Angeles. Since World War II and particularly in the last thirty years, urban squatting has received much attention in Europe. The major European centers for squatting have been London, Amsterdam, and Berlin.' In Britain, the squatting of buildings scheduled for renovation or demolition became an organized and public movement. In the United States, squatting is a criminal offense and has not been widely publicized. Squatting has a dual purpose. It can provide immediate shelter while being a political tactic to draw attention to neighborhood neglect, the lack of available and affordable. low-cost housing, the dwindling stock of housing, and homelessness. This direct-action technique serves to empower its participants who are usually people disempowered through their participation in the housing system. Squatting has a long history in the United States. It was a common form of tenure during the pioneer and settler days of this country. The homesteading acts of the nineteenth century institutionalized it. Since then we have had different terms for the same actions. Whereas homesteading is a legal and institutionalized means of taking over and rehabilitating an abandoned building, squatting is not. Squatting is most common during periods of economic recession or depression. During the Great Depression, many squats or shantytowns appeared in towns all over the country. These "Hoovervilles" protested the lack of government response to the financial crisis. Additionally, they were organized and focused on mutual aid.

Included in

Sociology Commons

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