Occupy Frederick wants to highlight homelessness & the impact of foreclosures on families.
"Occupy Frederick" has set up a tent city along Carroll Creek. About nine tents were erected on Sunday along South Market Street next to the Subway. Organizers says the purpose is two-fold. "One is to draw attention to the situation of the homeless in Frederick County. But also to raise awareness about home foreclosures in Frederick County," says Rob, who was at the site on Monday morning.
He also says "Occupy Frederick" is ready to help anyone whose in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure, even taking on the banks. "If they're willing to allow us to, we'd like to help occupy their homes. To continue to occupy their homes with them until the banks are willing to renegotiate the loan, and allow them to stay under their own roof," he says.
Organizers say with an increasing number of homeless people, foreclosures are going up. Citing realtytrac, they say there were 3,000 foreclosure sales over the past nine months, 5,000 vacant homes and 300 bank-owned homes. They say those bank-owned homes are in large part held by Wells Fargo and Bank of America. "This is not simply a housing crisis; it is a political and economic crisis that has placed filling the pockets of developers and bankers over the welfare of people in our community," organizers say in a statement.
Another participant, Alexis, says another reason for the tent city is to highlight a free workshop for anyone facing foreclosure. It will take place at the Hillcrest Community Center on Saturday, February 4th from 9:00 AM until 7:00 PM. "Basically, there's going to speakers and legal experts and we're going to try to reach out to people who are having their houses foreclosed on," she says.
Some of the participants in this tent city have been spending the night outside in the tents, but Alexis says she doesn't mind. "It isn't too bad as long as you keep yourself warm," she says.
"People have been asking us over and over 'Oh My God, how are you doing this.' It's so cold out,'" says Andrew, another participant. "The reality is that there are hundreds of people who sleep out in this weather every night, and they don't have tents and warm clothes like we do."
Participants say so far, the reaction from the public has been favorable, says Rob. "Mostly people are interested in what we're doing, and why we're doing it," he says. They've even donated some soup and hot chocolate, and a trash container.
But there has been some heckling. "A lot of people have been yelling things at us from the bars across the street 'get a job!' Well, we all have jobs," says John another participant.
The tent city is expected to be up for about a week, organizers say. Police have told them they can stay if they obey the rules, and clean up after themselves.