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Your Foreclosed Home is Our Party Spot

YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia , Commentary, Silvano Pontoniere Posted: Mar 06, 2009

Editors Note: Last month, seventeen young adults were arrested for throwing a party in a foreclosed home in Fort Myers, Fla. according to the commentator the practice is more common than you think. Silvano Pontoniere is a content producer at YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia.

SAN FRANCISCO The house was left in shambles, as if a bunch of teenagers on PCP and speed came through with sledgehammers and spray paint, and just had a ball.

In Fort Myers, Florida, seventeen people, ten of them minors, were arrested for throwing a party in a foreclosed house over a weekend.

Windows were busted out, graffiti was scrawled, and entire walls were taken down, leaving just skeleton two-by-fours and a clear view to the other side.

One room was tagged the sex room on the door, and the microwave above the stove in the kitchen reads smoke crack. Yes, the young people recently arrested after throwing a party in a Florida home had covered all the bases of an off-the-chain rager.

Florida is second on the list of states with the most foreclosures in the United States. California is first, with the second-highest foreclosure rate of the nation.

In the Bay Area alone, empty houses are a dime a dozen. And an empty house is a nice place for young people to hang out. Yahoo! Real Estate has 956 foreclosed houses listed in San Francisco. Thats more than enough to go around.

The last thing this foreclosure fiasco will do is put out a good image for Americas offspring. I have a feeling there are people out there who are getting the impression that youngsters today are animals and out of control.

But the fact of the matter is, young people who hang out in abandoned houses is a fairly common thing. And it doesnt necessarily involve such destructive and malicious behavior.

The first time I partied with friends in an abandoned house in the city, we were looking for a place to post up.

One member of the posse wanted to show off a pipe he had just made out of a dollar shot Smirnoff bottle. And a street corner isn't the best place in the world to start your career as a pipe salesman. Somebody said they knew of an empty house a block away, so we headed in that direction.

All the windows on the ground floor were boarded up, and the guy who led us there said it meant we couldn't get in. I had never done this before, so I agreed that it would be a good idea to just cop a squat in the backyard. Not the best compromise in the world, but at least it would keep us out of sight of any prying eyes.

The second time I visited an abandoned house, it had been pouring rain, and we were getting desperate for somewhere we could be sheltered for the afternoon.

Man, if I had a car we could kick it in there all night and wed be completely dry.

Thanks a lot, homie. That little bit of input really helped.

Finally someone remembered an empty house nearby he had heard of, and we headed in that direction. We were hesitant when we arrived, however, because the windows were boarded up. It was time for a huddle.

Does it REALLY matter?

I guess it does, but Im more worried about having a cold for the next week, so fk it. Im soaked.

Being careful not to cut our hands on the boards, we pried them off and piled in. The inside was completely bare, and we posted up next to the fireplace (I dont remember there being a chimney) and did our dance of youth for the rest of the afternoon.

But how does one find out about a house that's empty, and pull off a successful stay? I spoke to a few friends, most of whom are in high school or attending their first year at City College to see what they
had to say about the art of entering.

One of my friends said, "Shoot, I don't know. How do you hear about anything like that? Just through the grapevine, I guess."

We decided that the two key elements required to pull off an empty house visit are: An ability to be discreet (just like most any questionable activity), and a relatively accessible location.

As with any delinquent activity, keeping things under wraps is a priority. Any homie who runs his mouth gets excluded. And you have to be stealthy. If your keys are jangling, you need to tuck them away. If your shoes are clunky, they have to come off.

If you can't get in, you can't get in. Accessibility is still somewhat relative, however. Some people are only comfortable hanging out in houses that the police have not yet boarded up.

Another friend told me "When those boards are up, it means its made its way onto the [police] radar, and I mean at that point I see it as just a little too risky. There were a couple of days before they came
that you could have your fun, but after that it's just pushin' your luck."

Everybody I spoke to said that they never vandalized and there was nothing to steal. But they also couldnt recall a party that leaves the location in good condition. Its not like people play cleaning
crew when theyre done kickin it.

Still, there was no malicious intent. All my visits have left houses pretty much the way we found them, and the same goes for the people I spoke to. We arent running around trying to destroy houses people lost to foreclosure, or for whatever reason. We arent using one of the nations biggest problems to meet our own anarchic needs. Were just using it as a resource in times of need. Admittedly, it is illegal activity either way, but nobody is getting hurt and the intent
is not to destroy -- just to shelter ourselves for a short period of time.

It is somewhat ironic that the nations decaying infrastructure has become a playground and resource for young people.

Related Articles:

Homeless taking Over Foreclosed Houses for Valentine's Day

Indigenous Elders Fight Foreclosure

Philly Sheriff Stops Enforcing Foreclosure Notices

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