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Squatter's nine-year-old dump

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PORT ALLEN - A city official says a man has been squatting in a house for nine years.

The house, located on the 100 block of Atchafalaya St., has been without utilities since Sept. 2006. There is no running water, no lights and the roof of the home is held together by blue tarps.

City Inspector Milan Lathers says the squatter's threatening the owner of the home who won't kick him out.

"It's pretty much a junkyard in the middle of the city," said Lathers. "The person living here has completely destroyed the house; he won't let them in to fix the house. He pretty much is a hoarder."

Over the past nine years, the squatter has racked up a rent bill of about $90,000. Lather's says it's taken this long because of a lack of cooperation and proper paperwork. Now, all the steps are in place to legally remove the person from the home. Once the owner of the property pays the condemnation price, and there's cooperation from the person living there, the house will be torn down.

This is only one home on a list of 20 properties in Port Allen that are set to be torn down. Two of the homes currently have people living in them. The owner of one property has promised to fix up his blighted house.

Lathers says some of the holdup is because of city finances.

"They cost $3,500 to $4,000 a piece, times 18 so it's going to cost a pretty penny that I don't think we'll have without the budget," he said.

Councilman Hugh Riviere says now that a city attorney has been hired, the condemnation paperwork can be completed.

"There's been so much talk of community development, I just think this is money well spent. this is like a good first step," said Riviere.

The city plans to take care of the blighted properties as soon as possible. That all depends on the cooperation of the property owners, the money and the political state of Port Allen.


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