First of all let's be very clear about something - being house rich and cash rich are two very different situations. We live in a far different economy than 5-10 years ago when it might have made sense for Mr. Harris to get a HELOC on his house and fix it up. Would he have been able to do so? Would he have used the money to fix the house or take care of family members?
We may also never know why the Building Inspectors never saw fit to pay a visit until after the raid. The description in the article is of a house that needs more than a coat of paint and some TLC. All of the above is fodder for a followup story by anyone disputing Schmich's reporting.
I went back and read ALL of the comments posted as of 1:49 PM Oct 3. The comments are a mixed bag. There are allegations of felony violations, misdemeanor violations, rude and intimidating behavior and also comments disputing those very allegations. And all by neighbors or folks living nearby. Who to believe?
The dead dog was reputedly 16 y.o. and died during the last heatwave. Given the dog's age that does not surprise me a whole lot. The vet wrote a report that went to the police that indicated problems. Schmich reports the Animal Crimes unit appears to have been the lead on surveillance and the raid. If reported correctly, it is interesting that this was the lead unit and not the Gangs unit, considering the allegations of gangbangers hanging around. The local canine advocate disagrees that the confiscated dogs were abused/malnourished. Who to believe?
What is undisputed - a felon lived in the house along with other relatives. How many felons in this town live with family? How many families have extended family members, and how many of those, living with them? The numbers given regarding the Harrises (in the comments) were pretty high but I didn't read anything in the article suggesting that overcrowding was a concern of the authorities or too many residents were an issue.
What bothers me about this story is that no drugs or evidence of felonious behavior were found. After all that surveillance misdemeanor charges is the best anyone can come up with, which says something about life in that house. At least one blogger assumed meth was being cooked in the house, based on who knows what evidence. She has since taken down her post, but the quotes from it offer insight into a thought process that appears to be based on inference not evidence. One can be rude or intimidating without being a criminal.
The building inspectors, who could have come much earlier, apparently showed up as a consequence of a full court bureaucratic press, typically seen when there are residents you want out, or buildings you want closed because they are hazards. All those years Mr. Harris skated along unnoticed and now he has to move because he has no cash, and is unlikely to get it out of the house given its condition. The loan world is a much harder place to navigate now than it was 10 years ago.
Mary Schmich may or may not have reported this story properly, but the treatment of this family is teh suck! to put it mildly. I will bet that the price of the land may be the maximum the Harrises get for their property. Hopefully, Mr. Harris and his wife will be able to sell it quickly and find something they can afford for themselves. They won't always be there to take care of the rest of the family, all of whom need to begin taking care of themselves. Mom and Dad won't last forever.
In the meantime, the anxious neighbors who saw gangbanging, dope dealing, and dogfighting going on at that house can now look for another target.