Many homeless advocates believe banks should donate foreclosed properties for use as homeless shelters or temporary housing to help homeless people get back on their feet. There are currently programs in place, such as the Title V program, that allow homeless advocates to petition for the use of empty buildings.
Foreclosure is a long process, so there are many foreclosed homes that still have families in them. Many programs are focused on preventing homelessness by keeping families in their homes, even if the homes are foreclosed. These programs are usually beneficial to both the families and the lienholders, who prefer not to be responsible for abandoned property.
One of the problems with giving homeless people empty homes is that it can be difficult to sort out the legal ownership. The process can be long, difficult and expensive. Also, some homes have not been maintained properly and may be too dangerous for people to live in. Some homeless people and advocates encourage squatting, or illegally occupying, the home; however, in addition to being illegal, this can be dangerous. On the other hand, vacant properties are known to attract crime and property damage, such as arson, so turning them into homes for the homeless may be safer.
Banks often privately agree to donate empty homes to homeless people or those in need. They also routinely donate property to city or state governments. However, they often demolish the homes first so that the city can redevelop the land.