POUGHKEEPSIE – A number of Poughkeepsie residents walked through areas of the city Saturday and cleaned up vacant, foreclosed properties and buildings to point up a need for more affordable housing. The effort, spearheaded by the group Community Voices Heard, called on banks to clean up the properties and make them available for homeless residents.
Poughkeepsie resident Sheila Blanding was among those marching through the city. “These banks got away with crashing the economy and the housing market, and yet they still own homes in Poughkeepsie that used to belong to people,” she said. “Now these homes are sitting empty, and at the same time we have families who are homeless. Who needs these homes more – the banks or people?”
Dina Wilson, who attended the march with her seven-year-old son, is homeless. “I think about my son, and what logic he must have to employ, to rationalize the fact that there are unwanted properties all over the place, but our family lacks a permanent residence,” she said. “We have the solution to end two social ills at the same time – foreclosed houses with foreclosed people.”
The people who rallied called for the CEOs of specific big banks and local government officials to take action to address the housing and foreclosure crisis.
“These are now more vacant homes than homeless people in the United States,” said Sharon Froelich of Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson Home Defense Association. “Our goal is to see that no one is forced out of their homes. To do this we will use both legal action and public support, including direct action to keep people in their homes or move people into vacant homes,” she said.