Sunday, May 15, 2016
Gotta have a home
Whether you are part of a family who lost their home in the Great Bankster Mortgage Fraud, looking for a place to set up your chop shop or simply looking for a place to squat, Las Vegas provides lots of opportunities to find what you want and it is keeping the police busy.
Squatters have descended on every corner of the Las Vegas Valley, taking over empty houses in struggling working-class neighborhoods, in upscale planned communities like Summerlin, and everywhere in between. And they often bring a trail of crime with them.Nevada isn't the only place with a squatter problem, other states hard hit by the Mortgage Fraud have problems as well. If the Banksters worked as hard to get the homes filled as they did to get them emptied, this might not be a serious problem. But there is no money in that for them.
While some unauthorized tenants are families seeking shelter, police officers here say they are more frequently finding chop shops, drug dealers and counterfeiters operating out of foreclosed homes. One man who the police say was squatting has been charged with murdering a neighbor during a burglary.
Even as construction cranes have returned to the Las Vegas Strip and unemployment here has fallen to single digits, the situation is getting worse: the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has received more calls about squatters each year since it began tracking the problem; there were more than 4,000 complaints last year, up 43 percent from 2014 and more than twice as many as in 2012.
Residents say the explosion of squatters has shattered their sense of security, leaving them wary of any new neighbors at a time when the city is still trying to climb back from the depths of the recession.
“Things get out of hand pretty quickly when these people move in,” said Jacquelyn Romero, 59, who has lived in the neighborhood for about 15 years. “We’re trying to do almost like a neighborhood watch, just to keep ourselves safe.”
Like many homeowners here, Ms. Romero does not know how many squatters have taken up residence on her block over the last few years. There was the one who broke into cars on the street, and the one who threatened neighbors with a metal pipe. She is sure there have been others in the neighborhood’s foreclosed and boarded-up homes, but it is sometimes hard to identify them.
The problem has grown so acute that the Nevada Legislature passed a law last fall to make it easier to arrest squatters, who often brandish phony leases in hopes of staying longer in the homes they have taken over.
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