By Amy Julia Harris.
Thirty police officers raided Richmond, California’s abandoned Hacienda public housing complex on Wednesday, evicting the city employee who refused to leave and clearing the building of squatters exposed last week in a story by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.
“It’s outrageous that it took all of this,” said Lt. Eric Smith with the Richmond Police Department. “But the eviction is complete, and we’ve secured the building.”
It took an unlawful detainer lawsuit, scores of neighbor complaints, and ultimately a court order to remove Marcus Moore, a former housing authority employee, from Hacienda. Moore was blamed for sparking a squatter crisis at the housing project that cost the city thousands of dollars in the process, based on utility records reviewed by Reveal.
At least 30 homeless people had broken into the 150-unit building in recent months, busting through the wrought-iron gates in front, ripping copper piping from the walls and leaving mounds of garbage and human waste in the already decrepit building.
After neighbors complained about the impending public health disaster, the housing authority promised to get the situation under control. But they failed in efforts to deter squatters by posting no trespassing signs and sealing the front gates. Even the security guards hired by the city acknowledged in emails that they were “totally ineffective” in stopping hordes of squatters from breaking into and trashing the building.
“The destruction that’s gone on in that complex is pretty bad,” Smith said. “This really prevents the city and the Richmond Housing Authority from providing affordable housing for people in need when it’s being illegally occupied and damaged.”