No, it's not a Robert Ludlum title.
It's a unique Miami law that takes its name from Pottinger v. City of Miami, a 1988 federal court case (decided in 1992), in which the city's policy of arresting homeless people for engaging in "life-sustaining conduct" on the street (thus making it a crime simply to be without a home on public land) was ruled illegal. "The City’s practice of arresting homeless individuals for the involuntary, harmless acts they are forced to perform in public is unconstitutional," senior United States District Judge Clyde Atkins wrote in the decision, adding that "the City’s practice of seizing and destroying the property of homeless individuals" was also against the law. The principles of Judge Atkins' decision were memorialized in a 1998 memorandum called The Pottinger Settlement.
Now an intrepid group of activists are building shanties on city-owned lots, citing the Pottinger settlement in support of their legal right to use the land.
Here are a few relevant sites:
take back the land, a blog run by the land invaders
an article from The Final Call
Shantytown U.S.A., an article from the South Florida Sun Sentinel
Liberty City residents have come up with a visionary strategy to create housing. Is anyone in New Orleans planning to follow suit?