It seems someone's decided to knock down the factory across the road from our house. When we first moved in here, we noticed that the views from the front windows of a run-down, graffiti covered, abandoned factory were not the most glamorous we'd ever shared. Occasionally we'd see teenagers sneaking out of one of the side doors and wonder what they'd been up to. Once I found the leftovers of a garbage bag full of bread (suspiciously similar to the ones that we get donated every week) just outside another door. Later on we found out that the buildings were temporarily housing some of the regular visitors to our Community Centre.
I have no doubt that crimes occurred in these buildings: vandalism, graffiti, use of illicit drugs at the least. I'm also aware that they offered much needed shelter to those who had few other options, that kindness and hospitality were present here, that art was created and lives shared. I'm not romanticising the brutal reality of living in a squat - they are generally terrible places to spend any time in - but I am reminded that such places only become viable options when our society has failed in other ways to provide for its homeless citizens.