Washington Foreclosure Squatters Unnerve the Neighborhood

PHOTO: The destruction found inside of a home in Covington, Washington once occupied by squatters.
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A two-story home in a middle-class neighborhood in Covington, Wash., became a nightmare for neighbors after squatters turned the house into a trash dump filled with loud party music.

The abandoned home was "destroyed inside and filled with filth," according to an Oct. 28 report from the King County Public Information Officer obtained by ABC News.

The report from authorities who paid a visit to the house in the Crofton Hills subdivision told the tale of squatters living in squalor surrounded by broken items, feces and rotten food.

This story first appeared in the Seattle Times.

"You'd come home and find them throwing things out of the second-floor window," John "J.D." Wilson, who resides next door to the property, told the newspaper.

The nine-year resident of the suburban neighborhood told the Times about the group of squatters that became his unwanted neighbors for months. The group would play music until the wee hours of the morning, he said, and burn furniture on the patio.

At one point, according to the Times, while Wilson walked his Rat Terrier, one of the squatters approached the neighbor resident and told him, "I'd like to barbecue your dog."

Indeed, U.S. neighborhoods are changing as homeowners default on properties and more homes become boarded-up shells.

"I think it's happening in a lot of places, not just Covington," Brian Bykonen, a code enforcement officer for the city of Covington told ABC News. "I think situations like this are popping up across the United States because there are just so many foreclosed properties."

Bill Robinson of Flower Mound, Texas, 51, wrote a 63-page ebook about squatting after occupying a $340,000 abandoned home, according to the Associated Press. Robinson left the house earlier this week after a judge ordered him out.

Elsewhere, two people were arrested in Queens, N.Y., after cops found drugs and guns during a raid of the where the duo resided illegally, according to the New York Times.

The threat of violence at illegally occupied homes caused New York City police to begin keeping tabs on vacant homes in the area, the Times reported.

"I just drove by a house we boarded up, and it's open again and there are squatters living there," city Councilman Leroy G. Comrie Jr. told the Times. "It fell into foreclosure because the developer ran out of money."

In January, one in every 198 housing units in the country experienced foreclosure filings, according to RealtyTrac. While year-over-year activity is down, there has been a 3 percent increase in foreclosure filings since December.

"Although overall foreclosure activity was down from a year ago for the 16th straight month in January, we continue to see signs on a local and regional level that the frozen-up foreclosure process is beginning to thaw," RealtyTrac CEO Brandon Moore said.

"Foreclosure activity increased on a year-over-year basis for the first time in more than 12 months in Florida, Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania, following a pattern we saw in late 2011 in states such as a California, Arizona and Massachusetts.

"We expect the pattern of increasing foreclosures to continue in the coming months … " said Moore, based on foreclosure settlement among 49 state attorneys general and five of the nation's top lenders.

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