Posted by Terry Alexander - email
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A new website is promoting squatting in Richmond. That's where people live in empty homes they do not own. It's illegal, and the site, which claims to be funny, is directing people to real foreclosed homes in the city.
Real estate agents across Richmond are doing damage control taking down cardboard, spray painted signs that say 'Squat it', encouraging people to break-in and live in empty homes for free.
Squat to own dot com hit the internet two days ago. It claims to be a satirical website advertising zero down, no monthly payments ever. It encourages squatting and even includes a map of properties that are actual foreclosed homes in Richmond.
We went to some of the locations and found squating signs and a lot of curious neighbors.
"When I saw the sign this morning I was trying to figure out what is, squat it, and then I saw squat dot com," said Justina Jackson.
"It's scary. It's real scary. It's hard, you know living in a neighborhood people can look on a website to find a house," said Latrice Allen.
Laura Holly lives right next door to a foreclosed home with a squat it sign.
"It's kind of nice the thought of it. But the reality of it that's just kind of not right, not right at all," said Laura.
Kelly King Horne is the Executive Director of Homeward an agency that helps the homeless in our area.
"We would love the fact for neighborhoods to welcome people into housing, but not like this," said Horne.
Horne says nearly nine percent of the homeless in Richmond experienced a foreclosure. She likes the groups passion, but thinks there's a better way to help.
"We really need to find a way to channel this passion to what we know works to end homelessness. For families and individuals. Really connecting passion to solutions," Horne said.
As for neighbors in Church Hill and south Richmond, they think the home addresses should be taken off the website.
"I live here and I don't want people in the neighborhood breaking into homes. Living in homes for free. Cause it's going to bring crime to our neighborhood," said Jackson.
We tracked down the group that created the website. A member said the campaign was meant to raise awareness about homelessness and the housing crisis in Richmond.