MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A group of Miami neighbors have been filing complaint after complaint with Miami Police in hopes of ridding their neighborhood from alleged squatters.
On Tuesday, tensions rose as police arrived en masse to the normally peaceful, tree-lined street along the 200 block of Northeast 44th Street.
They confronted the people who have been occupying the childhood home of Dr. Smith Joseph who is a mayoral candidate for the city of North Miami.
But on Tuesday, he said, he was a victim of a system that doesn’t do enough to protect homeowners.
“But for you to have a property and people come and claim it you feel helpless. I mean this is the way I feel, helpless. I can’t do anything,” Joseph said.
Neighbors echoed his sentiments.
“I’m actually afraid for my life and afraid for my property,” said Tom Joule who is steps away from the alleged squatter home.
When CBS4’s Chief Investigator Michele Gillen asked the alleged squatters who they pay rent to, they did not respond and only laughed at other questions.
Miami Police said they could not forcefully remove the individuals occupying the home and called it a civil matter.
“There’s a distinct gray line between a squatter and a burglary and we act on an overabundance of caution on our side,” a Miami Police Captain told Gillen. “It becomes a civil matter and in due time these individuals will be kicked out of the home.”
By late Tuesday afternoon, a city of Miami squad of homeless relocation advocates arrived on scene and began assisting some of the residents, including a woman and five children, in finding alternative shelter.
Throughout the night, tenants of the house in question were seen revisiting the home and it’s not clear if they will vacate the house for good. It’s expected the homes owner will be changing the locks to the house soon.