Picture The Homeless: Was the Group's Funding Frozen Over Squatting Allegations?
This just in: Picture the Homeless says that its funding has been frozen because of a New York Post story claiming that the non-profit, which received $240,000 from the city in recent years, taught people how to illegally squat.
The funding fracas started when Andres Perez, a board member of the Bronx-based org who also affiliates himself with Occupy Wall Street, hosted a "teach-in" on homesteading (AKA squatting), according to the Amsterdam News.
Now, Picture the Homeless says that Perez did this independently -- not in his official capacity as a board member.
The Post's article "Squat the Heck," however, attributes Perez's activities to the group, saying: "It's breaking and entering for dummies. Picture the Homeless, a Bronx nonprofit that has received at least $240,000 in taxpayer money in the last five years, is giving a crash course on squatting -- and city-owned buildings are a prime target."
Also: "Residents also aren't happy about city tax money going to a group that preaches squatting...The Web site for Picture the Homeless boasts a list of accomplishments that includes sending "delegations to the World Social Forum in Brazil."
Oh, and let's not forget the web headline: "City-funded activist group teaches homeless how to invade apartments."
"The council recently learned that this organization may have been engaged in activities that related to unlawful squatting and requested that the [Housing Preservation and Development] commissioner place a hold on funding under the contract between HPD and Picture the Homeless until they complete an investigation into alleged wrongdoing on the part of the organization," a City Council spokesperson told Amsterdam News.
A spokesman for the HPD confirmed: "Per the Council's request, we are reviewing their current contract and any funding requested for this fiscal year would be subject to that review."
Runnin' Scared has reached out to Picture the Homeless to see what's up. Check out a copy of the City Council letter here.
Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.