ODESSA, Texas (ABC Big 2/Fox 24) – Odessa Police say officers respond to complaints about squatters frequently. Winter months also call for a spike in squatters, who often gather in abandoned buildings for warmth and safety.
While officers can be called out to a scene to maintain peace, legally, they are not able to send them away.
“We respond to these types of calls quite a bit,” said Steve LeSueur with OPD. “Those types of calls, they’ll originate as suspicious activity or check welfare, something of that sort. And we’ll respond, and our main thing is we’re trying to determine whether or not some sort of crime was committed. And if there was, we’re going to take appropriate action.”
If the owner of the property is upset, it usually results in a warning followed by an arrest for trespassing.
“If they’re refusing to leave, if it’s their second time, that is usually a Class B misdemeanor. If they’re actually inside a residence trespassing, then it’s a Class A misdemeanor.”
Just Tuesday night, several homeless people were found in the 2500 block of E. 2nd Street. The residence was an abandoned multi-family home.
With multiple abandoned building scattered throughout the city, Odessa City Council discussed the safety concerns of three commercial buildings during Tuesday’s meeting.
The City of Odessa says when it is cold, it provides shelters for the homeless. It also provides contact information for local churches and shelters that are open year-long.