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North Side neighbors dealing with unwanted house guests

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SAN ANTONIO - Searing temperatures have caused one north side neighborhood's loitering problem to get even worse.

There have been several reports of vacant homes for sale broken into and occupied by squatters.

"Lately I've seen a few more people just walking in the neighborhood," Barbara Edens said.

Oakpark-Northwood neighbors say they've been dealing with a large amount of homeless men and women for years; aggressively panhandling near businesses, and setting up encampments too close to where they live.

Lately there's been more," Edens said. "There has been more of homeless stuff."

The problem has only escalated.

Neighbors say several homes listed for sale have been taken over by squatters.

"That's very scary for them that someone could just break into their home or just live there and they not know it," Edens said.

Barbara Edens says vacant homes for sale are especially attractive to the homeless during the summer months.

"You've got it all ready to go, you have to keep all your utilities on your electricity."

Monet Lessner lives near a vacant home for sale.

It's where she recently saw police responding to reports of squatters.

"I saw them walking around the property," Lessner said. "I texted our next door neighbor and said do you know anything about it."

The homeowner has reportedly had to board up the windows several times after the unwanted guests moved in.

"The neighbors are the ones spotted the problem."

Outgoing District 10 Councilman Mike Gallagher has been working to address the area's problems.

He wants police to increase patrols and stresses the importance of citizens on patrol.

"That's why I think there's strength in the neighborhoods because they're familiar with who lives where," Gallagher said.

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