Will Picture The Homeless Sue New York Post Over Sensational Squatting Article?

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Yesterday, Runnin' Scared brought you news of Picture the Homeless' funding fracas.

The Bronx-based non-profit has received $240,000 in public money over the last five years, but payouts got frozen this week as the City Council investigates squatting allegations.

Picture the Homeless says that the City's move stems from a New York Post story claiming that a non-profit member taught illegal squatting classes on the taxpayers' dime -- an allegation the group disputes.

Now, Picture the Homeless is strongly considering legal action against the tabloid.

"The Post article contained a number of statements that were either very misleading or outright false," Gideon Oliver, the organization's attorney and National Lawyers Guild New York chapter president, told Runnin' Scared this afternoon.

"As a result of the article, the City Council directed Housing Preservation and Development to freeze the reimbursal contract funding pending an investigation. Picture the Homeless has since been consulting with lawyers about the possibility of a legal response."

Runnin' Scared reached out to the article's author, Michael Gartland, as well as the Post's public relations rep, for comment. Gartland, reached by telephone twice, said he was on deadline and would call back when available. Runnin' Scared also e-mailed our questions.

The Post's article, "Squat the Heck," claims to detail the activities Andres Perez, a board member of the org who also affiliates himself with Occupy Wall Street. Perez is said to have lead a "teach-in" on squatting. The story, however, pins 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."

And: "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."

The web headline reads: "City-funded activist group teaches homeless how to invade apartments."

Picture the Homeless told Runnin' Scared in a statement:

"We're proud that New York City's most racist and reactionary newspaper doesn't like us, when this is the same paper that runs op-ed pieces telling Blacks and Latinos that if they don't want to be stopped-and-frisked by the cops, they shouldn't commit so many crimes.

NO TAXPAYER MONEY goes to homesteading! Andres is not staff. Members at PTH shared their own personal experiences, when they couldn't get help from city and there were no jobs that paid enough to get a home."

Runnin' Scared will keep you posted with any developments.

Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.

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