Right out of Zimbabwe

Marketplace: Miami’s homeless inhabit vacant homes
KAI RYSSDAL: We were talking around here today about how the sour economy is changing the way this country looks. There are more vacant storefronts or, in stores that are still open, huge signs practically begging customers to come in.

And it’s not just cities and businesses. Foreclosed houses are falling apart. Lawns are overgrown — the ones that aren’t dead because nobody’s watering them.

But in Miami, homeless activists are using those vacant homes to solve the problem of neglect — and to solve another problem too as Marketplace’s Dan Grech reports.

DAN GRECH: Marie Nadine Pierre is a 39-year-old mother of four. Today, she’s moving into a renovated three-bedroom house.

GRECH: Are you nervous?


She’s nervous because what she’s doing is illegal. Her new home, in a middle-class Miami neighborhood, is a foreclosure owned by a bank. By moving in, she could be arrested for trespassing, breaking and entering, possibly even burglary.

As I said back in November, only suckers pay their mortgage.

7 thoughts on “Right out of Zimbabwe”

  1. This is quite significant. While its not Zimbabwe yet, we can see where this might be headed. I remember a scene out of Dr. Zhivago where the local thugs took over Zhivago’s house. The lead punk said something like “5 families can fit into this house.”

  2. I do want to qualify Miami in the sense that it rivals Detroit as America’s most failed city. Politics is corrupt by default and ethnic competitive groups practice slash and burn policies that destroy what little cross-cultural ethos is possible. The poor have no jobs to work beyond minimum wage hospitality jobs at hotels, restaurants, etc. where local talent is ignored and national companies reward sycophants and problem children with plum managerial and supervisory positions there.

    The school system is a violent cesspool of drugs, thugs and security theater. The police cannot protect the citizens against criminals because so much of their operating funds go to protecting dignitaries and visitors at the myriad of conferences, conventions, etc. that are held in Miami and whose economic benefits go into the pockets of corrupt developers, city politicians and other predators.

    The place is a freaking nightmare, but for dopey tourists, staggeringly rich businessmen of ill-gotten gains, keep up with the Jones yuppies and wealthy Latin American exiles, its a wonderland where they don’t have to see the reality of a broken city.

    NCLB is the best thing to happen to Miami’s non-rich children ever.

    I do not agree with the squatters but considering the extortionist price of slums, I can at least understand why they are breaking the law.

    In the other cities this is occurring in, I find it sickening and something truly out of Zimbabwe. In Miami, its the end result of decades of taxpayers who didn’t give a damn about the education or future prospects for the spawn of the barista serving their $5 coffee or laborer fixing their hurricane ravaged roof for below the table pay, the politicians who line their pockets every step of the way and the government for not shutting this tourist trap down and scattering the huddled masses across Florida and the Southeast, ala post-Katrina New Orleans.

  3. Live there for six months and experience it first hand :-). Honestly, this is how I grew to understand it (plus living in Hialeah, working near the squatters tenements at the airport and then later in Liberty City…aka the worst ghetto in America).

    Here are a few that do not quite rival the excellency of the Detroit articles you linked to but do a fine job of highlighting the endemic corruption of Miami.

    Excellent corruption series here from the Miami Herald.
    (background link)

    Eye On Miami is a pretty good blog for Miami corruption.


    Sadly, some of the better writing about Miami is in Spanish, especially regarding the impact drug money has on Miami society, politics and daily life.

  4. What growth though? Miami’s economy is largely tourism & low-level services.
    Most other growth is related to the various mortgage and property schemes that have sent values falling, or the need to invest drug money.

  5. I do agree with your observation about corruption. After all, what about Chicago, LA, etc?
    I will ask around for better, more scholarly or at least journalistic detail to formally support my (and that of a near majority of Miami residents IMSUHO) assertion.

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