Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Homeless Neighbor Ettiquite

This is my car on the left (with its sad dent) and the car in question on the right.

So I need some pointers on how to deal with homeless people. A homeless person, that is. A specific homeless person who is living in an abandoned car. In my next door neighbor's back yard.

Let me back up. So we live in kind of a ghetto neighborhood. No, I shouldn't be so harsh; It isn't exactly ghetto. It's...."established." Established and poor. Ok, it's ghetto. Anyhoo, when we moved in, our biggest issue was our next door neighbor's yard. He is on a corner, and we are on the other side of that corner, so his back yard is our side yard. Does that make sense? Anyway, there is only a small bit of yard between the back of his house and our driveway. A chain link fence is all that separates us. When we first moved in, his back yard was like a junk yard. Old shopping carts, broken down cars, a half disintegrated snowmobile, an abandoned camper. Two, actually. And they were both full of stinky, mangy, stray cats. And stray kittens who were cuter and less mangy, but wild. They would hiss at you if you tried to go near them. There was a bunch of other random junk back there too, including, and I kid you not, a birthday cake with only one slice cut out of it. I have no idea how long it was there, but since it was store-bought and made primarily of man-made chemicals, it seemed to be faring pretty well in the outdoors. The frosting color, a pale blue, was still discernable. Well, all this junk, as well as the mangy cats, caused us quite a bit of distress. But I'm sure the house we were moving into, which had been vacant for 2 years before we bought it, was causing them a bit of distress. Or not. Probably not. Well, we had no idea how to get them to clean up their yard. What's the nice way to say, "Hey, you're a pig and it's disgusting. Get rid of it!"? We lived with it for a while, constantly considering our options. At the top of the list was an "accidental" fire which would start on the inside of the camper and spread to all the broken down junk in the back yard. But then magically one day, before anything could spontaneously combust, the owner's son came over and started hauling stuff out. Maybe all the work we were doing on our yard was making them feel guilty. Soon the cars, campers, trailers, and cake were gone. One camper and a few other random pieces of unrecognizable metal did remain. But we felt a lot better about things. Plus, a junk tree and some Virginia creeper had started to grow up between our yards, so we didn't notice things as much.

Flash forward 3 years. The back yard next to us has started to fill up again. This time it isn't as much junk as it is the family's outdoor storage unit. The guy's kids park their unneeded trucks, cars, trailers, ATVs and snowmobiles there. At least they move around from time to time. But it still kind of irks me. Then, a few weeks ago, a guy started showing up in the back yard all the time. He always seemed to be getting stuff out of the small station wagon parked back there. I would see him 4-6 times a day, getting stuff out of the car, changing clothes. From shorts, to a shirt and tie, to hospital scrubs, and back to regular clothes. Over and over and over. And I eventually became suspicious that he was actually living in the car. I haven't been able to confirm this, as I've never seen him actually laying down in the car. But why would he keep all his clothes in the car in the backyard if he were living inside the house?

He is in his upper 20's or lower 30's. Decent looking. Well-groomed. He doesn't look homeless. He looks like someone I might have gone to high school with. Someone who might be in my ward. He might even be one of the owner's sons. But I can't get past the fact that he is either living in or living out of the car that is 2 feet away from my driveway. And why is he changing into and out of a shirt and tie and hospital scrubs several times a day??? It's all very very bizarre.

And so I need some tips. What do I say to him? "Hey, so, how's the backseat? Nice and roomy?" Or to the owner of the house maybe? "So, how's that backyard tenant working out for you?" I mean, really? WHAT DO I SAY? Or do I just skip the niceties and go straight to calling the police. I'm not sure. What would you do???

14 comments:

Karyn said...

First, find out what laws require backyards not to be junkyards. I'm pretty sure most cities do not allow it.

Second, report that car as abadonded. That will get the police to question the neighbors about it.. and if the guy is living in it, it'll be discovered. (I'd mention that to the police when you say it's abadonded because I think it's worth mentioning it.)

Mindi said...

i just giggled thru that whole post. it was the abandoned birthday cake that started me off, then your homeless, car-liver.

i got nothing on this one.

but i want you to do all of the things bloggers tell you and then take photos and post them with captions!!
(seriously.)

CaraDee said...

That is a great idea. Just call people at the city offices about it. THey could answer some questions you have about it and how to go about fixing it. If all else fails, build a beautiful fence. Out of sight, happy life. And that will make your home that much more appealing to a prospective buyer down the road.

Christie said...

Call the City - I can guarantee they have an ordinance against it. (since that is part of what I do) It is strange that he would be changing his clothes several times a day - maybe he has some type of secret life or something :)

jennie w. said...

I feel really bad for the guy. Imean, your life has to be pretty bad to even use your car as a closet, let alone as a house.

If he is living there, it's probably just for the fall. Pretty soon it will be too cold. He'll have to move to St. George or Nevada.

I have no idea what to say. That neighbor has created a lot of drama. I did like the busful of kittens, though.

And you do not live in a ghetto. Except for that one abandoned house.

Becky, yep said...

No, no, no...first thing...put up a wooden fence. You shouldn't have to look at that stuff! THEN call the cops. but I don't think they'll do anything unless you can prove that the guys is sleeping in his car because the property probably isn't zoned for dual residency.
SHEESH! Good luck with this one!
AND...I hope he's not sitting in the back of his wagon reading your blog!

Kristine said...

Wow, I wasn't sure what I was going to say to you, but after reading Karyn's advice, I totally agree with her! And be sure to keep us updated on what happens! That's crazy! Scrubs to a shirt and tie all day long? Strange!

devri said...

What evah- I say call the police, just not when anyones there..

devri said...

What evah- I say call the police, just not when anyones there..

beth said...

Call the Cops and lay low, you don't want ant backlash from your neighbor.

MiaKatia said...

I kind of feel bad for the guy too. Using your car as a home or a closet has to mean you are in dire straits. I agree though that maybe your neighbor's backyard isn't the best place for him to be staying. There are for sure city codes against. I like the advice you have been given so far. Oh yes, and keep us posted.

Misty said...

That's crazy - I think you can call the city about it. Thank goodness I have awesome neighbors. Good luck!

Megan said...

I agree with the others, call the city & let them know.

alex dumas said...

My favorite part of this is the birthday cake. That brought it all to life for me. And that you remembered that little detail long after it was hauled off.