Jarhead brought up one kind of alternate housing, let me run another by y’all that’s been knocking around in my head for awhile. Squatting. I’m sure we all know what it means, empty house + free rent. But what would it mean in practical terms if we were looking at it from a SHTF Shelter point of view?
Vermin – I guarantee you’re going to be sharing that shelter, with all manner of vermin. Everything from lice to cockroaches to other squatters. Some vermin are edible, so maybe that’s a plus in really desperate times. In not so desperate times, it’s a negative, and something you’ll need to guard your food and clothing from.
Water Problems – Whether the utilities have been off for years and humidity has rotted the drywall, or a hole in the roof went unpatched, or a sump pump didn’t kick on for a couple of wet seasons, water is likely to be in all the wrong places. You’ll likely not have running water either, so obtaining potable water could be a problem. If you have allergies or asthma issues with mold, I can see that being a problem. These kind of problems can crop up fast, I’ve heard some horror stories coming out of the foreclosure house mess. Banks owning more houses than they can care for and people opening up a literal can of worms when they go to check in on the property after a few months of inattention.
Speaking of homes – Isn’t that someone’s home you’re talking about squatting in Calamity? Well, no not necessarily. It could be a foreclosure property, owned by a bank or government entity. It could be owned by speculators who have no intention of coming back. In the case of a SHTF event, maybe it’s property left by illness or famine, left by someone with no close heirs. I’m certainly not advocating that you toss someone out of their house, or that you break into property that’s under ownership to a real person, or that you plan elaborate schemes about how to live a posh lifestyle of rent free bliss. What I am saying is that current estimates put the empty house number at millions, some places like Detroit have 30,000 homes, vacant and mouldering. I’m not sure it would be wrong to have people in need take shelter in them. I know in the UK you can use Freedom of Information laws to request listings of empty buildings from local governments. Whether that would hold up on this side of the pond, I don’t know. But, it’s worth a thought.
What about heat/light/water? I hear some place you can just call the utility company and tell them you want utilities at X address in Bob Joe’s name and send them some money and you can have utilities. Now, if there’s a deposit, and then something happens and you have to bug out, well that money is probably gone. Putting utilities in your name, could give authorities a route to find your name and legal information. Paying for them could be problematic, depending on your work situation. So, maybe you should plan to do hobo rocket stoves and warm clothing. That almost seems easier to me. But, some people like their comforts. :-D
Keeping things easy and utility free also helps with security. If the windows are already boarded up, that’s a plus, fewer people will even be able to tell you’re inside. If you’re quiet and only in town for a few weeks for a job or whatever, it’s possible to go unnoticed. Do any scouting with a clipboard and some sort of badge, so people think you’re with the bank or realtor or something. Move in after dark, and leave for work before dawn every day, I think you’d have a good chance of not drawing attention to your squatting.
Just some thoughts. If unemployment continues it’s upwards crawl, and if the foreclosure glut continues to sit on the market, I think we’ll see more and more of this kind of thing. I would consider doing it in an emergency. Would you?
– Calamity Jane