Vagrants Invade Vacant House; Neighbors Grow Frustrated

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.

This window in the vacant house only has one side boarded up, as vagrants removed the other side. Neighbors kept buying plywood to board up the windows and block entry, but it hasn’t kept anyone out.

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 broken fence allows vagrants to enter the abandon home’s backyard.

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

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26 Responses

  1. Randall R. Smith Randall R. Smith says:

    Tracy,

    Just so you don’t feel like the Lone Ranger, Sunset Terrace had the same problem when offspring of a former owner took possession of an abandoned home there. Action by concerned neighbors, again aided by NextDoor.com, has been so far successful in getting the parents to evict the “boys”, remove the trash and evident drug use, seal the home and hopefully tow a ruined RV. Redding has become once again the Old West where citizen activity is necessary to keep the peace, form a more perfect union and secure the blessings of liberty. May be it was always this way and we simply lived in a parallel universe and didn’t know.

  2. Avatar Hollis Pickett says:

    If you want to find out who holds title to the property. the tax assessor’s office might be a good place to look

    • Avatar K. Beck says:

      You can phone them and they will give you the name and address of the owner. However, if it is a bank, good luck!

      I had my home stolen by Wells Fargo (who I now, and forever, will call WFU). I had a 30 year fixed rate mortgage. Put $91,000 down, put around $100,00o0 into improvements, the only room left to do was the kitchen. The mortgage co. sold my mortgage to someone, who to this day, remains anonymous even though I asked and asked them for a name. That mortgage company sold the mortgage to something called MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration System), set up originally, or so we are told, to “avoid the need to file assignments in county land records” i.e. they didn’t want to have to pay the county’s recording fees. However, IMHO, it was set up so it was up and running prior to Bill Clinton signing the Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLBA) in NOV 1999 which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act (you can read about this, here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gramm–Leach–Bliley_Act). This was part of the whole scheme set up to defraud almost every country in the world by selling them “derivatives” (you can read about derivatives here: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/derivative.asp) based on packages of mortgages.

      These packages of mortgages, mostly filled with the mortgages you read about “sold” to people who should have never been given a mortgage in the first place. In order to make these packages “salable” they took a small percentages of solid mortgages (like mine, for instance) to make the whole think look legitimate.

      WFU refused to modify my loan (even though I qualified under the two terms set out under HAMP) because they did not have clear title to the property. They sold it in a forced Short Sale. When I went to the title company to sign the sale papers they just rubber stamped everything and shoved the papers in front of me to sign, by some surly woman. Clearly there was NO title search done. So the people who purchased my house that time, and once since then, do NOT clear title to that house. No one will ever have clear title to that house. It has all been “cleaned up” by the short sale.

      This has been the biggest theft of personal property since the US Government stole the whole country from the Native Americans!

      The banks got bailed out. Nothing happened to the mortgage companies who wrote all the mortgages for people who could not, in reality, qualify for a loan, and no one has questioned the “title” companies who were not investigating the titles. When a media person threw this question at Barack Obama as he walked away from the formal press conference, “President Obama, what about all the people losing their houses?” Obama replied, “They just have to buck up.” That about says it all. As far as I can tell no one has even kept count of how many houses were repossessed through this whole process, and seems to be continuing on, even today.

      And, before you tell me I should have consulted with an attorney, I did that. No one would take on the big banks. Here is how those things work: The banks have so much money and so many lawyers on salary that they can drag a person, like me, through the muck of legaleez until I am bankrupt. If I could have afforded that I could have paid off the mortgage. I will end up in that bankrupt state soon enough without going through all that.

      Read about it all here: “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis.

      All of that is to say this: many of the houses stolen have been bundled up and sold to “investors.” These investors, are one by one, either selling them to house flippers or hiring people to fix the houses and then selling them. It is a long drawn out process, as we can all see simply by driving around town.

      “The rich get rich and the poor get laid off
      In the meantime, in between time
      Ain’t we got fun?”

      Van & Schenck, 1921

  3. Avatar Chris K says:

    I don’t get it, I mean the house may not be occupied, but isn’t it still breaking and entering at least?
    And vandalism of private property?
    These things are still against the law these days aren’t they?

    Man, this whole situation is getting waaaaay out of hand.

    • Avatar Scott says:

      California does not have a “breaking and entering” statute. People who break into an unoccupied residence can be charged with criminal trespass. If the residence was occupied, the people could be charged with Burglary in the 1st.

  4. Avatar Tracy says:

    Thank you Hollis. We contacted the tax Assessor’s Office and their records indicate the house is still in the owner’s name, however that is not the case. The employee stated sometimes it can take months for the information to be forwarded over to the Assessor’s Office.

  5. Avatar Hollis Pickett says:

    If you’re sure that the house is no longer in the owner’s name, you could check at the Recorder’s office to see if a new deed has been recorded (free). There’s also a title search (done by a title company) – $200-250 to check the chain of title.

    • Avatar K. Beck says:

      The banks leave the name of the original owner of the property on the county rolls because they don’t want to have to deal with any of this!

      Going after someone who has been thrown out in the street seems like insult to injury to me.

      If this was a “normal” house all of what you say is true. This is not a “normal” house it is stuck in the muck of foreclosure. The banks do whatever they want. Trust me on this. See my entry above.

  6. Avatar mike says:

    I have heard of neighbors taking problem landowners to small claims court and winning. The problems then were crack houses. After a few judgements in favor of the neighbors were handed down the problems were resolved as there was money involved. I know it would be a pain but there might be a monetary reward in it for you for putting up with this nonsense.

  7. Avatar Karen C says:

    You are doing everything right is trying to solve this issue. Our neighborhood and an issue with an occupied house. The fence was falling down and exposing the swimming pool, and there was junk all over. I called the City of Redding code enforcement and asked them to give me the code number for blight in a neighborhood. I waited a week or so then called back again, and gave them the facts on the home, telling them it was going agaist city code (insert number) and that the home was violating the “health, safety and welfare” of our neighborhood. They got on it, sent a letter to the homeowner giving them 30 days to repair the fences and move the junk. It worked.

    Having worked for the City, I observed that staying professional, calm, and stating only the direct facts and what the violation is, is all they want to hear. Keep calling them, they will get tired of it and move the request to respond closer to the top of the list. Also, like another poster said, go after the property owner, send a registered letter stating the problem and requesting they take care of it. Call them first, if you can get a number. Document everything, so when the police show up, you can give them a copy of what you are doing.

    Call the police and tell them there is a breaking and entering happening, every time you witness it.
    I wish you luck with this, those issues are not pleasant.

    • Avatar Tracy says:

      Thank you Karen.

      Quite a few of us have been calling Code Enforcement many times. The last call we made to the Code Enforcement Office was unsuccessful. Here is what we were told by the employee:

      This house is low on the city’s priority list and calling her is hindering her progress on other homes.

  8. Avatar Grammy says:

    The Recorder’s office or “enplan parcel viewer” pv.inplan.com on-line will give you that info. Go to the site where you will see an aerial photo of your neighborhood. Just put your mouse on the parcel and you will find out all you need to know.
    As far as homeless invasion, be glad you don’t live in England. Must more difficult to get rid of people.

  9. Avatar Dick says:

    If you have someone willing to go on camera contact KRCR TV and try to have them do a story on it. Publicly shaming the city is about your only option if the title records aren’t up to date so you can’t track the owner.

  10. Avatar Ann Webber says:

    This is a continuing problem and was seen recently on Victor in a home that was vacant and burned down. It endangers anyone in the vicinity and our hard working fire fighters as well. Unfortunately, there are few solutions.

  11. Avatar EasternCounty says:

    The public meeting on homelessness, vandalism, crime, and panhandling that drew a turn-away crowd plus all the comments on this article and others like it should be sending a wake-up call to both the City Council and the County Supervisors. These elected officials are supposed to address and solve the problems facing the citizens. These are huge problems that can’t be solved overnight, but they have been ongoing for a long time and continue to be ignored. The understaffed police department can do only so much. Until the Council sets priorities for ridding our community of homeless camps and cracking down on vandals, criminals, and panhandlers, nothing will change. The next election should be very interesting.

  12. Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

    I’m so sorry to hear your neighborhood is going through this. We had a similar problem last year and the police flatly refused to come when we called to report it.
    So…I have an idea. Anybody in the neighborhood have a large, loud dog that you might want to keep in the backyard for a few nights? It might scare off potential vagrants, or at least fool them into thinking someone is already living there legitimately.

  13. Avatar KarenC says:

    on such issues to property owners, property managers, etc. If yes, then ask them if they are utilizing their volunteer program to send out those letters to the property owners/managers. When I was there , that is what volunteers did. They sat at a desk, with a list, hand wrote the addresses and stuffed the envelopes. If they are not utilizing the Volunteer Program, they should be. Good Grief, how much time does it take to mail out a notice of code enforcement violation!

  14. Avatar KarenC says:

    I don’t know why part of my message disappeared. Here is the first part.

    Tracy, the next time you call code enforcement, ask them if they have a from letter….

  15. Avatar rebecca says:

    Well how about fighting fire with fire? If the issue is people breaking and entering and presenting a hazard, why can’t you or someone you know who needs a place to stay enter and set up temporary residence? That way it would at least keep out the unsafe element.

    Get electricity and water going to the house and get set up as residents. This may motivate the title holder to take action, as they will actually be forced to take you to court to get an eviction notice if you squat long enough.

    Not a perfect solution, but a potential one.

  16. Avatar rebecca says:

    Pressing the hand of these backwards title holders may also force them to put these houses back on the market for a reasonable price and get them occupied. There are plenty of families that are struggling to find affordable housing in this city that would make a great addition to your neighborhood and who would not be a crime or safety hazard.

  17. Avatar KarenC says:

    Tracy, saw your story in the RS this morning. Good job getting it out there. Please let Doni know if anything comes of all this. I know we would all we interested in hearing your successes,

  18. Avatar Tracy says:

    Thank you Karen! I am so happy we are keeping the awareness going. I will definitely let Doni know.

  19. Avatar Walk A Mile says:

    It is so very true that, until we have a decent place set up for the hundreds of homeless who are struggling to survive day to day, without food or a permanent home, we will continue to have these kind of breakins and encampments throughout the city. Just try to imagine where you would go if you lost your job, had no friends or family here, and nothing to offer someone for rent….the G.N.R. Mission has been over capacity for years now, and it shouldn’t be left up to one sole nonprofit group to help the hundreds anyways. The best solution would be to turn public owned, run-down, unused large areas in the city into a homeless encampments (with permanent showers, garbage disposal, leantwos, and maybe even a drop off donation spot on the grounds for clothes, etc from all of us who care enough to give). I propose we use the old baseball park downtown, across from Safeway on Cypress/Market St. Don’t they already hangout down there anyways? It would be conveniently located near the police station, so they could do a drive through once or twice during the day, to monitor and hopefully keep everyone safe (or at least a little “safer” than the days we have recently been experiencing lately). I’m sorry to say, but I think the world is just going to keep getting crazier and more dangerous….it seems as if all hell has broken loose and the demons are roaming the earth, destroying everyone and everything in their paths! May love and peace surround those of us who are still trying to maintain the righteous, positive and honest light within our souls! The good always defeats the evil in the end!:)

  20. Avatar judy crane says:

    about 90 % of them choose to be homeless because everything is handed to them (FREE) Like I was told by them is they tell workers & SSD what they want to hear and free free free starts flowing then turn vacant homes into their haven!! Bullshit I worked hard and pay taxes on land use and nope you guessed it homeless do not pay land taxes, federal or state .