In July, O4O held a national conference that attracted like-minded squatter and anti-eviction groups from around the nation, setting in motion a collaboration that led to today's activities. "Our goal is to create a community of people who are directly invested in housing each other and defending each other," Morales says. "The policy changes will come. That's not my department. Mutual housing, land trusts, whatever the hell you want to call it—you are not going to get in the door until we start taking shit."
Their overlap with Occupy Wall Street—in geography, ideology, and nonhierarchical structure—has given New York's squatters a huge shot in the arm. "I try not to use the word 'squatting,' but rather the word 'liberation,'" says Michael Premo, an Occupy Our Homes coordinator who's been part of OWS from the beginning. His meetings have drawn dozens of former Zuccotti Park campers. He says that, much like OWS, Occupy Our Homes aims "to create a new relationship between land and communities, so communities can control resources to serve people rather than just create profit."
The increasing political sophistication of the local squatters has convinced some fairly mainstream affordable-housing groups to lend a hand this time. "We are very supportive of what they are doing, and our role is to work in a parallel way with them to develop policy goals," says Cathy Albisa, executive director of the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, a social justice and housing group that has been talking with squatting organizers for 18 months. "We have faith that they can change the discourse and we need to be ready to capitalize on that moment."