Northeast Kansas City residents say squatters took over their neighborhood

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One Northeast community is gritting their teeth at the newest eyesore in their neighborhood.

A vacant house on the 500 block of Drury Avenue burned to ground Tuesday night, but neighbors say the property was a problem before the fire.

“Squatters are getting bad," Tina Farber said. "They’re setting houses on fire. This is a squatter situation, and we're all tired of it.”

Farber lives one house down from the vacant home.

"I was outside chasing my kitten, and out of the corner of my eye I saw the fire," she explained. "This is the second time the house has been on fire."

However, this latest fire made the house uninhabitable.

"Squatters have come to my yard at two in the morning saying they thought my house was empty, and they could stay inside," she said. "I tell them to get off my property."

FOX4 spoke with several neighbors who said the squatters make them feel unsafe in their own homes. One man described an increase in stolen property due to the homeless population on his block.

"It was time for them to go," Alvin Jackson said. "At one point there was 12 of them in there."

After looking into the property, FOX4 found that the previous owner had not paid taxes on the home in the last four years.

"This property has been vacant for quite a while," said John Baccala of City Neighborhood and Housing. "It’s been on the city radar, and we were actually going to demo the home, but then it sold in the Jackson County tax sale a few months ago."

"Once that happened, we pulled it off the demo list, and it's now back on because of what’s happened out there," he continued.

Baccala told FOX4 that homes are added to the demolition list once they are deemed repairable.

"Anybody that lives in a neighborhood that has vacant houses needs to be extra vigilant now because we’re going to see people who are homeless, vagrants trying to get into these homes," he said.

The city told us squatters will start fires inside of the home to keep warm.

"Call 311. Let us know," Baccala said. "If we go out there and see that a vacant home has access to entry, we will board it. We will keep people out because things like this are going to happen if there is accessibility to vacant homes."

Bacalla told FOX4 that the city plans to tear the house down in a matter of days.

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