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Homeless taking advantage of foreclosed housing

Foreclosed homes occupied by homeless - Yahoo! News

Foreclosed homes often have an advantage over boarded-up and dilapidated houses abandoned because of rundown conditions: Sometimes the heat, lights and water are still working.

"That's what you call convenient," said James Bertan, 41, an ex-convict and self-described "bando," or someone who lives in abandoned houses.

While no one keeps numbers of below-the-radar homeless finding shelter in properties left vacant by foreclosure, homeless advocates agree the locations — even with utilities cut off — would be inviting to some. There are risks for squatters, including fires from using candles and confrontations with drug dealers, prostitutes, copper thieves or police.

"Many homeless people see the foreclosure crisis as an opportunity to find low-cost housing (FREE!) with some privacy," Brian Davis, director of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, said in the summary of the latest census of homeless sleeping outside in downtown Cleveland.

Violinist falls, fracturing million-dollar fiddle

Million-dollar fiddle fractured - Europe- msnbc.com

LONDON - Can his fractured fiddle -- a million-dollar Guadagnini -- be fixed? It's too early to tell.

David Garrett, a former model who has been called the David Beckham of the classical scene, said he tripped while carrying his 18th century violin as he was leaving London's Barbican Hall after a performance, smashing it to bits.

"I had it over my shoulder in its case and I fell down a concrete flight of stairs backward," Garrett said Thursday. "When I opened the case, much of my G.B. Guadagnini had been crushed."

Violet Blue on her life on the streets of San Francisco

tiny nibbles - violet blue

This is a really nice piece.

"But later when I was 18 I worked in a cafe for three years and I was wondering how many people I served coffee to for five days a week for three years, how many people I smiled to and remembered what they liked and how I loved being the person everyone loved to see there. Nearby there was a fire station, and I opened the cafe at 6:30am alone and the firemen would come in one by one and I knew who loved raisin bagels toasted with butter and Earl Grey with the hot water poured over the bag just *so*. The firemen wanted me to be a firegirl, not just because my bob matched their trucks, but they really wanted me to take the test. They'd invite me to the station for tours and let me sit in the trucks, even in the drivers' seats. I didn't have the heart to tell them I didn't graduate from high school (or 9th grade) so I'd never pass any tests.

"The cafe owners tried to fire me more than once for wearing ripped jeans, and for having a visible tattoo. They had kids in private schools. When I closed I'd fucking rob the place for food. I would fill two grocery bags: one was for my housemates and me, the other was for the whores who worked the four scary gnarly streetcorners right outside my house because I knew they needed food and all had kids in nearby apartments and Odwalla juice was the right thing to steal for whores. No one ever noticed the food missing from the cafe.

"I miss serving coffee. My second job that I kept for a while was at a deli chain, and I almost got fired twice but managed to keep my job. I was so barely off the streets. I'd just got my first place to live and I was still 16 and I remember it was a Victorian shithole from hell where I had two rooms to myself that were $142.66 a month and there were holes in the walls where you could see out onto the street and half the kitchen was rotten flooring and caving into the bottom floor so no one could walk over there. But the girl who gifted me the rooms, a New York punk, left her mattress and pillows and a couples blankets and it was mine.

"When I lived there I'd have punks and skinheads (*not* racist ones) come over -- and I'm embarrassed to say it, but they'd come over and we'd play role-playing games all night. We did it so much on the streets because it's so fucking boring on the streets and I could only carry one or two books on me at a time, so I ended up writing and developing my own RPG. We were filthy motherfuckers with bags of D-20s in our pockets. At night, the guys would come over and we'd play. One boy -- Veto Void was his name -- would stop at the buy-a-slice pizza place and get the free throwaway slices and we'd blow our cash on Jolt and stay up all night and play. For some reason I always ended up being some short character, like a fucking dwarf, and they'd all tease me. Because I'm only 5'4".