Squatters Camp In Cars At Busy Midland Intersection

Squatters Camp In Cars At Busy Midland Intersection

Anum Valliani

NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Water, personal items, and if they're lucky the roof of a car: those are the essentials for people who are currently living at a Walmart parking lot.

The corner on Rankin highway and I-20 in Midland has become a prime place for some people to call home.

NewsWest 9 spotted a few packed up and resting in vehicles and mobile homes, and others scattered under trees, but we're told many more come out at night.

Officials said the bunch shouldn't be a concern.

"The true homeless people won't be there begging for money. They'll keep to themselves, stay in their cars," Sergeant Jimmy Young with the Midland Police Department said.

David Cardon is a Vietnam Veteran, and one of those voluntarily homeless men.

"We choose that kind of life because we got freedom. That's why we stay out of trouble, that's why we don't steal things, or hurt people, or do whatever," he said.

Young patrols the area occasionally and he said there haven't been many complaints about them there.

"Normally we'll get a call from downtown say 'Hey, they're scared of going into the office,' and we'll go talk to the homeless person to just move on, and we'll help the employee go into the building and stuff like that," he said.

Overall though, he believes people are understanding because the situation is just the price of a booming economy.

"It's just part of it. It's called growing pains I guess. There's really nothing we can do about it," he said.

But the city has to intervene if those who own the private property have a problem.  Walmart, Stripes, and Starbucks are all well known establishments that we're told the squatters rely on.

Young explained that it's currently "50/50. I mean you get some that wants no homeless people on their property, and that's their business, they have a right to do that, and some as long as they keep to themselves they're okay."

They haven't had to dish out the criminal trespassing tickets just yet. The squatters told us, it's because they're good samaritans.

James Bowzer explained the system in place, where the people have an understanding about proper etiquette that must be there to stay. They describe it as "paying rent."

"Every morning I come down here and spend an hour picking up, and even I throw a little bit of litter around here and there, but in the morning, just pick it up. The dumpsters are right here," Bowzer said.

He also said store owners like - or at least don't mind them - either considering they use the bathroom at any of the 24 hour stores by them. Though "some people are too lazy," Bowzer admitted.

The city occasionally drops by to check on things there, often pushing options like The Salvation Army and Church Under The Bridge. They say the goal of course is to help them find a stable roof over their heads.

"People are trying to do the best they can and we all work together. If they keep to themselves, we don't have a problem with them.," Young said.