Self-described hobos set up house in St. John's
Squatters record videos of illegal dwellings and post to YouTube
Self-described hobos who were living inside a vacant heritage property on Temperance Street appear to have left for good, but not without showing off what they were doing and upsetting city officials first.
One of the squatters, who goes by the name of Hobo Victorio, posted a video of the group living inside houses known as the Four Sisters on the YouTube channel Spiked Nation.
In the recording, Victorio shows the outside of the homes, and then walks back inside to introduce the other squatters. The hobos make several rude comments and gestures to the camera.
Victorio said the reason the homes were vacant is because they're haunted and the women who once lived there all met with untimely deaths.
[Warning: The videos contain strong language]
In a second video, Victorio brings the viewer to 'the grove', a green, bushy area near the Delta Hotel.
"I'm going to show you a genuine gypsy camp in downtown St. John's, Newfoundland," he said in the video.
Hobo Victorio goes on to show the tents where his fellow squatters are sleeping, and their common area, including a couch and kitchen complete with a bunsen burner.
"It took us about three days to set it up, the cops know we're here and this is where we are going to stay. We call it 'the grove'," said Hobo Victorio.
When CBC News visited 'the grove', the place had been ransacked. No one was there.
Beer bottles were littered around the site, moldy pots and pans were left behind and cookies were scattered everywhere on the ground.
Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff was appalled to find out that people were living inside the historic Temperance Street properties.
"My only interest is I don't want to have harm caused to either these homes or to the neighbourhood," said Duff.
"My main concern is that this is an important, very important, historic property," she said. "We can't do a whole lot. Unless the owner of the property cares and takes some action against illegal entry into the property it's difficult for us to do much."
Judith Babbitt owns three of the four historic houses and has been out of town. The homes were built in the late 1800s with surplus sandstone and slate from Cabot Tower. The tower's designer, stonemason Samuel Garrett, gave each house to one of his four daughters.
The city said it was able to get help from police and evicted the squatters last week to protect the properties.
According to a blog post by Hobo Victorio, his group planned to stay in St. John's until the summer festivals were over.