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‘I’m A Builder By Day Then Go Home To My Squat’ – Homeless Man Squats and Restores Properties

Source: The Telegraph

Having a shelter is becoming wishful thinking due to the recent housing crisis across America. The homeless in today’s context aren’t necessarily the haggard on the streets. You can imagine having a decent job, but still being unable to afford a home. Yeah! That type of system-induced homelessness.

Source: Wikimedia/Bart Everson

For some, squatting is the only option for reasonable housing. Quite a fair solution, you may say. After all, it shouldn’t be a crime to claim a long-deserted residence. Yet squatting in itself is splintered with several hurdles.

The Pro Builder And Squatter

Apart from being a builder, the 32-year-old Polo doubles as a professional squatter. Perhaps not hard to tell since he also resides in a squat. But there is a slight twist: Polo is unlike the random squatters you’ll find around.

Source: Wikimedia/Joe Mabel

About how he goes on with his business? Polo simply searches for empty properties and replaces their locks. On top of that, he sorts the basic bills, revamps where needed, and sometimes goes to the extreme to install a solar alternative for electricity.

Reality Of Today’s Housing Market For The Homeless

Housing is among the basic life requirements anyone should possess. Unfortunately, not only the deemed homeless can’t afford shelters today. Some working-class categories are tilted toward homelessness with the current surge in housing prices.

Source: Pixabay/Agnieszka

Many people now embrace squatting and a lot more unconventional living. The figures showcasing this shelter shift have risen to a sprawling 25 percent in the past decade.

Polo’s Childhood Backstory

Imagine having a hard childhood of literal homelessness. Well, Polo knows better how that feels. He has been without a roof since adolescence. And yeah, like you’d expect, he also needed to go from home to home.

Source: Wikimedia/Sigurdas

Polo’s foster living stint came to an end when he was taken in by folks who introduced him to squatting. Now, he has turned that around and searches nationwide for potential squat properties.

How Polo Pulls Off His Squat Business

Clever Polo! The UK builder has an established network that identifies uninhabited residences across the country. He often gets tipped off on the state of such homes and how long they’ve been deserted.

Source: Flickr/Warren LeMay

Immediately, he zooms off with his motorbike to inspect the site. On getting there, he puts on his his-vis jacket with the Locksmith inscription. As soon as he gains access, he changes the locks and walks off with the new set of keys. Voila! That’s one property secured!

Recent Housing In The United Kingdom

Like many other places in Europe, the UK’s housing market is in a solitary dance with inflation. As it stands, it’s at its most unaffordable as it can get. Rent? That’s also on a steroidal spike.

Source: Flickr/Jeffs4653

It’s almost like you have to be well above average to be able to afford a decent apartment. Meanwhile, the number of long-term empty homes has increased by 10 percent in the last five years.

The Challenge Of The Single And Homeless

Polo recounts how challenging it was to get social housing despite being in the care system. It became even more impossible considering his single status. This made him resort to squatting.

Source: Freepik/jcomp

His typical buildings of choice are the commercial and industrial types. Of course, you’d expect that, considering the UK’s strict regulations geared at squatting residential houses. However, he occasionally finds homey buildings suitable enough to squat.

Polo’s Dream Of Abating Homelessness

More than having a place to stay, Polo is looking into solving the home needs of society’s poor. And he’s delving into lucrative ways to make that happen. He dreams of providing hostels for folks needing a cozy place to momentarily stay. Perhaps a couple of meals wouldn’t hurt too.

Source: Wikimedia/Eventuallyparallel

One of the apartments Polo stayed in was unoccupied for 32 years. Surprising? Maybe not. The owner died and had no living relatives to claim the property. He’s been living here for 12 years already.

A Retro Visit Of Squatting’s Origin

The housing crisis is no new thing. Like a seasonal event, a similar challenge birthed the squatting idea in the latter part of the 20th century. To buffer the process was the abundance of empty houses.

Source: Freepik

Lasting for about two decades, there was a clampdown on squatting due to a major reason. Cash-strapped councils sold off their stocks, and the squatting of residential havens became prohibited.

A Decade Progression Of The Housing Hurdle

Many have made a home for themselves from what they have. Not a literal house, but it suffices for shelter nonetheless. Talk of sleeping in tents, public transport, cars, and other unusual places.

Source: Unsplash/Adam Thomas / Unsplash/Jon Tyson

According to statistics, there were over 12,000 identifiable people in this category in 2012. Fast forward to 2022, and that figure has sprouted by approximately 4,000. And, of course, there is room for more increase if no imminent interventions are employed.

Social Homes: Another Unlikely Shelter Option

Right! The rise in squatting is a consequence of the lack of affordable homes. Sadly, social housing also can’t cater to home needs. England builds 7,000 social homes for rentals annually. This barely sees to 8 percent of homeless cases according to current demands.

Source: Wikimedia/Fars Media Corporation

Existing social homes are being sold under the right-to-buy scheme. Only if they were replaced at an equal rate! Before, people with no homes were often those living on the streets. Recently, that definition has extended to students, parents, and young individuals.

Peter Albescu: One Of The Many Squatters In London

Mr Albescu is a gardener who has explored London. Well, not as a tourist, but via hopping from one squat home to another. Based in Croydon, he and his crew have had their escapades in several properties. Now, they are in possession of 8 homes. But the good part? They’re giving them out.

Source: Freepik

For a migrant from Romania, Albescu tasted the salty waters of housing in London. He was underpaid anyway. There was no way he could sort his rent. But having squatted for this long, he wouldn’t mind continuing because of the likable community.

A Community Rising To The Housing Crisis

According to most squatters, nothing is more satisfying than helping others in similar need. To this end, there is a proliferation of the squat community. Autonomous Winter Shelter focuses on squatting commercial properties with a widespread network across England and some parts of Europe.

Source: Flickr/Oskar Steinn Omarsson’s

Admittedly, the squatting community is at a crossroads between politics and humanity. There is the political game, and also the resistance in play. But hey! A little side note: the latter seldom lands folks behind bars. So seek a safe haven, but do so with the right squatting channels.

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Mary Scrantin

Written by Mary Scrantin

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