Editors note: the following is an article we received today from a Great Falls resident who for obvious reasons has asked to remain anonymous.
Thirty years ago when I bought my home and was head of the youngest family on our block, the old-timers living nearby imagined, and some so-stated, “There goes the neighborhood!”
Fast forward to June 6, 2019, all those former community members are long gone, some of them, first to rest homes then, finally, deceased. My home is by far the best groomed, nicest home on our block although we have three other neighbors who do pretty well maintaining their domiciles.
Presently one of our neighborhood homes is vacant, neglected since its forfeiture by foreclosure in December, last year, the third home on our block to be foreclosed upon; another is vacant and neglected for more than a year now. A third has become a Federal Transport rental, I mention their name only because the poor quality of their rentals and their management of them is so well known.
Thirty years ago you couldn’t have convinced me that, today, we’d have homeless people living in cars on our street, that other vehicles, long abandoned to our avenue, are unlicensed, filled with trash, and vacant. Presently, and since last Thursday, a homeless female, probably between forty and fifty years old, and her pet cats, has been living in an old, tan, unlicensed Pontiac van, first next to our home at the vacant foreclosure next door, now in front of the rental on the corner. Both tail-lights are broken out of her van, and one of the headlights.
Using an assortment of dirty blankets and tarps, she shelters herself from the sun during daylight hours, from the cold at night.
She has no formal restroom but utilizes the street, leaving her “toilet paper” where she drops it. she has no facility for food storage or cooking, and no trash service or, as already mentioned, indoor plumbing.
The Great Falls Police Department knows she’s there and does nothing, claiming they can’t do anything about her vehicle, even though it’s unlicensed and uninsured, unless it stays in the same spot for more than 72 hours at a time. This law is actually to the woman’s benefit: First of all, she’s legally granted a place to park for 72 hours at a time; secondly, it prompts her to move as her toilet and bidet overflow!
Frequent visitors to our block are Montana Department of Corrections Parole Division employees, evidently checking on some of their wards living in the rental on the corner. Apparently, through them, members of the Great Falls Police Department then visit this residence upon contact. Ducking their new prisoners’ heads into the back seat of patrol cars, they make arrests but, since our under-staffed local jail and prison population presently and for some time now exceeds its legal head-count, a bondsman returns them to our neighborhood where they stay until their next arrest and re-release.
Drug paraphernalia is carelessly strewn around our neighborhood, much of it in the alleys behind our homes but some out front as well…
…our trash dumpsters overflow with hoards re-deposited weekly; adults, mainly males, openly and visibly urinate daylight and dark, on lawns, in alleys, and on the sidewalk. So much for Great Falls City “code enforcement,” and not because local code enforcers are unaware of these problems: they’re brought up-to-date more often than weekly yet do nothing.
Some of our local policemen and women, when confronted with the situation in our neighborhood, tell us, “You do something about it; it’s your neighborhood,” almost as if they’re part of a plan to make sure our community fails. Others, and I’ve heard this several times recently, believe our police-men and women are afraid and, therefore, avoid this type of situation.
For us….and we’ve loved our home, our business, our church and our town….the obvious thing to do is to move to live elsewhere. This isn’t what I planned when I bought my home those many years ago. It was going to be the last place I lived but things change.
Signed – A Concerned, Frustrated Citizen