Organizing for Occupation by Organizing for Occupation
Despite the fact that the media focuses on the most central occupies in the center of the biggest cities. The Occupy movement has gone local. Small cities such as Rochester, NY and Birmingham, Alabama have their own occupy movements. In large metropolitan areas, there are various neighborhood occupy groups working on different projects. Even Long Island, once the epitome of tranquil suburbia, has its own Occupy movement. Most of this has yet to get mainstream media attention.
One project that Occupiers are working on nationally is squatting on foreclosed properties, or properties in the process of foreclosure. Occupy 477-Sugar Hill started when Delois Blakely, a member of co-op housing for seniors, approached OWS activists for help. Ms. Blakely's building was being foreclosed due to a fraudulent loan a co-op member had signed for, and the bank had shut off the heat and hot water for these seniors. Activist Tony Cochran and a few other occupiers moved in. They contacted various city agencies. The bank was forced to turn out the heat and hot water. Mr. Cochran got this matter in major newspapers such as the Huffington Post and the Guardian. As a result, Ms. Blakely and the others now have legal representation.
Organizing for Occupation, another occupy group, assists those in the process of foreclosure and eviction. Even before the protesters camped out at Zucotti, Organizing for Occupation prevented 82 year old Mary Ward from being evicted from her foreclosed home in August 2011. They surrounded the home as the fire marshall came to evict Ms. Ward. Ms. Ward received legal representation from Common Law, Inc and they successfully negotiated with the home's new owner to allow Ms. Ward to stay there. Organization for Occupation seeks to create housing by helping those in need occupy vacant spaces. Occupiers in other cities have already occupied foreclosed properties. Organization for Occupation can be found at http://www.o4onyc.org/
The housing drive is only one major project that occupation is working on at the local level. There are others, such as planning businesses that are cooperatively owned by their members. Occupiers are doing a lot of work with community groups and advocates for the poor. An example of this is Vocal New York, a group that raises assists and advocates for victims of diseases such as Hepatitis C, HIV, Malaria, Tuberculosis, mental illness, and drug/alcohol addiction. Occupiers have connected with networks of churches that feed and house the need, and direct them to social services. Providing those without homes a stable living situation and food enables them to move forward and look for work and/or go to school. Occupy has merged with local community organizations nationally, and provided a platform in which very good work is being done.