Oregon Meth House Owners Settle With Freddie Mac

Freddie Mac said it encourages "home shoppers to see if the addresses of homes that interest them are on the registries state and federal agencies keep of known clandestine meth labs."

The federal registry can be found on the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) National Clandestine Laboratory Register website.

Freddie Mac also said "concerned home shoppers can also check an address with local law enforcement."

The Hankins had said Freddie Mac encouraged them to test the structural integrity of the property. Their home is not on registries because there was no enforcement on the property.

Though the Hankins have settled with Freddie Mac and have moved into their new home, they are continuing to raise awareness about this topic by testifying in front of the Oregon state legislature on Wednesday.

"Our goal is that we will be tireless advocates for future homebuyers so they don't have to face the same nightmare that we have," Jonathan Hankins said.

Republican state representative Gail Whitsett has introduced house bill 3499, which asks for foreclosed or auctioned homes to be tested for methamphetamine or to have a posting on the house that indicates a home has not been tested.

"A lot of people don't think about it," Whitsett said. "If you buy a home, it's not something that comes to the forefront. You don't necessarily think about methamphetamine."

Whitsett said she hopes to standardize methamphetamine testing in the same way that lead and mold testing is required in the state, especially for homes that are not listed by the previous owners.

She said there are over 800 homes scheduled for auction in 30 of Oregon's 36 counties that likely have little or no information about their history.

Only five percent of methamphetamine labs have been discovered by authorities, according to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control.

Brett Sherry, program coordinator for Oregon Health Authority's Clandestine Drug Lab program, said the number of homes that local authorities refer to him have fallen dramatically since the program started in 1990.

Police refer homes that were illegal labs for any number of drugs, though most are producing methamphetamine.

Sherry said he did not have a record of the Hankins' home.

"It's very possible the property was used for manufacture or meth use," he said. "If someone smokes methamphetamine, that can contaminate the surface with meth residue."

The busiest year was 2001, when the program saw tested 324 labs.

In the past three years, only 10 labs have been referred to the program per year.

So far this year, seven homes have been reported to the program.

There is no single common symptom if someone is sick from methamphetamine residue, Sherry said, but it is wise to get a home tested, if you suspect it is contaminated. Otherwise, a family could be exposed to any number of toxic chemicals, like sodium hydroxide, which is normally used in drain cleaners to dissolve materials.

"The example we typically use is a child crawling on floor," Sherry says. "It's very easy for them to absorb methamphetamine residues."

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