Imagine living next door to a vacant house, thinking you do not have anything to worry about because the house is empty.
Many of us recently found out this was not the case in our neighborhood, until we signed up with a website called NextDoor.com. This website has helped neighbors in our subdivision become aware of this terrible problem and brought us together to resolve it.
The terrible problem is a house in east Redding in the Old Alturas area. It’s been vacant for five-and-a-half years, going in and out of foreclosure.
Vagrants have discovered this empty house and are continually breaking in. With no running water, there is human waste filled to the top of the toilets, along with buckets of human waste in the garage. The vagrants leave garbage everywhere and remnants of drug paraphernalia.
All of these issues are a dangerous health hazard. The lawn is dead and overgrown, which is causing a fire hazard, especially with our current drought situation.
Some neighbors have tried to keep out the vagrants by purchasing plywood to cover the windows, and putting dowels inside window casings. Other neighbors mow the lawn when it is overgrown, remove garbage, and try to keep the house locked up, but unfortunately, none of these measures have succeeded in keeping out the vagrants.
What have we done to resolve this issue? The Redding Police Department has been contacted many times. Recently someone was caught in the act of entering the house and was issued a ticket. However, the police can only do so much.
Thank you Redding Police Department for all your hard work. We understand you are doing what you can.
The next step we took was to contact the company that is handling the property for the mortgage company. Neighbors have called many times to report the break-ins, squatters and fire danger. The most common answer is, “We will forward this information to the mortgage company and have them send someone out.”
When we ask for the name of the mortgage company, we are told they are not allowed to give out that information. The calls to the company started over a year and a half ago, with a few neighbors taking turns calling. Since our neighborhood came together with the help of Nextdoor.com, there are now many of us who continually call. However, the problem is still not resolved, and still no one has shown up after all of our repeated calls for the mortgage company to clean and secure the house.
We then contacted the city of Redding Code Enforcement Division. An employee there stated the house is on their “list” – however, they are so backlogged with enforcements and hearings that they are not able to handle the house in our neighborhood any time soon.
The property is an invitation to criminals and vagrants. It’s very dangerous, a health concern, and a fire hazard. There are children living on both sides of this house and all around the neighborhood who could easily pick up the drug paraphernalia without knowing what it is, which is extremely unsafe. The communal mailbox is right in front of the vacant house and parents do not feel safe sending their children to check the mail.
We are fed up with this problem. We have done everything we could think of to resolve this issue, however, we are continually hitting road blocks.
We will not give up on this, or get discouraged. We will find a way to fix this problem. There must be other neighborhoods dealing with this same horrible situation, and we are hoping others can give us some advice on how to handle it.
We all should feel safe in our own neighborhood.
Tracy Jennings, Redding