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NE: Lincoln councilman owns dilapidated home, target for squatters

By   /   December 11, 2012  /   17 Comments

NOT FIT TO LIVE IN: City Councilman Gene Carroll owns this house, which police say is vacant with no heat, electricity or water and is often targeted by squatters, including a 52-year-old Lincoln woman and her 10-year-old grandson who were recently found living in squalor in a back porch. Photo by Deena Winter/Nebraska Watchdog

By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog

Updated 6 p.m. 

LINCOLN — A dilapidated, vacant house where earlier this month a 52-year-old woman and her 10-year-old grandson were found by police living on a squalid porch is owned by Lincoln City Councilman Gene Carroll.

CARROLL: Councilman Gene Carroll

A police officer checked on the house at 2 in the morning Dec. 4 because it was a well-known target for squatters and found the woman and boy sleeping on a makeshift bed of blankets, living in filth. The pair had previously been found in the house Oct. 19, and the woman had been cited for child neglect and trespassing and the boy was taken to the home of a family friend.

According to a police report, the house has no electricity, heat or water and they had been using candles for light, blankets to stay warm (it was 28 degrees) and a 5-gallon bucket to collect urine and feces. Clean and dirty clothes covered the floor and blankets covered the windows. The police officer described the smell in the porch as “cause for concern for anyone who would consider living there.”

TRASH: A bush appears to have been used as a garbage can in the back of a house Carroll owns at 2544 O St. Photo by Deena Winter/Nebraska Watchdog

“Living conditions inside the building were extremely unsanitary and unfit for humans, let alone a cat, which also called the back room home,” a summary of the police report said. The woman was again cited for neglect and trespassing, and the boy was put in protective custody and turned over to the state.

The Lancaster County Assessor lists the property as owned by Rose Investments, Inc., which Carroll and his wife own, according to Nebraska Secretary of State records.

Carroll told KLIN today that the house has been a commercial property – most recently it was rented by Shramek’s Video Productions but it’s been vacant since 2009 – that he is planning to demolish.

“It’s what happens when you have a vacant property that you’re getting ready to demolish,” he said.

FOR SALE: Councilman Gene Carroll also owns this dilapidated house at 725 South St., which has a “for sale” sign in the vacant lot next to it. Photo by Deena Winter/Nebraska Watchdog

The assessor’s records show Carroll bought the property and the house next door in 2005 for $260,000, but it’s now valued at $76,600 — and that’s just the value of the land, the house is valued at zero. A“for sale” sign in the front yard carries Carroll’s phone number.

The house is on O Street – Lincoln’s main street — just three blocks east of Lincoln’s recently completed $4.8 million Union Plaza and a $246 million flood mitigation and urban revitalization project in the core of the city, the Antelope Valley Project.

SQUALOR: It appears someone had been living underneath the porch of the house at 2544 O St. Photo by Deena Winter

County assessor records indicate Carroll also owns a house at 725 South St. and a vacant adjacent lot. The South Street house appears to be vacant, with a rotting porch scattered with old phone books, a peeling roof with what appears to be a hole, and a tire under a bush in the front yard.

The homes appear to fit under the definition of a “problem property” – unsightly homes the city of Lincoln has been working to eradicate for years. Carroll, as a councilman, oversees the very agencies in charge of cleaning up these kinds of homes and dealing with absentee landlords.

Mayor Chris Beutler – who started a neighborhood program to clean up problems in the core of the city, declaring “there will be no slums on my watch” – recently endorsed Carroll for re-election. The mayor’s chief of staff, Rick Hoppe, defended Carroll on KLIN today, saying the home has been used as commercial property for the past 25 years and is slated for demolition.

Carroll, a Democrat, recently announced plans to run for re-election to his at-large seat in the spring.

Contact Deena Winter at [email protected].

Editor’s note: to subscribe to News Updates from Nebraska Watchdog at no cost, click here.


Deena formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • driveswift

    Uh, why is nobody asking why these people have nowhere else to go? Why are no churches taking them in? For all the hype about private charity taking the place of welfare, it seems people are still falling through the cracks – or living under them.

  • Unbelievable! He needs to be primaried by a responsible Democrat!

  • Help the woman and the child for goodness sake. There has got to be more to this story.

  • Well, obviously the old lady was lazy and didn’t care to find a suitable place to go. Why else would she be living in an abandoned house?

  • Ann

    It sounds like the woman doesn’t want help. There are people who refuse assistance. I am sure there are churches and private groups who would be MORE than willing to help them. This Councilman had better not be re-elected, he should be setting an example for the citizens, not being one of the worst. I’ll pray for him, and for the woman and little boy. God bless them all.

  • You have to ask, if Mr Carroll is apparently so incompetent in managing his own property, how can he be entrusted to manage the city.

  • Marily

    Maybe she doesnt have any money Your very insensitive to this woman’s situation and judgmental on top of that. Obviously you have never had to face an adverse situation so you cannot understand what challenges the less fortunate suffer..Jerk

  • resistwemuch

    It appears that Watching From Lincoln has again failed to watch from/for Lincoln.

  • what a fricken hipocrite!!!!

  • Myrna Brown

    The poor guy owns a rental house that he can’t get rented because it has been trashed. He may still owe the bank money on it. He can’t get it sold. Are you suggesting that he clean it up and restore services to it so the squatters and cat would have a decent place to live.

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Bingo!! This was also the truth that the Occupy Lincoln movement discovered and brought to light – and which the Mayor and City Council of Lincoln tried to hide – that on any given night there is between 200 to 400 homeless people in Lincoln NOT sleeping in the City Mission, Matt Talbot or other private shelters in Lincoln. These people gravitated towards the Occupy encampment because they were offered food to share in, occasionally an empty tent in which to sleep – but mostly were NOT judged nor given a dose of Jesus in exchange for a bite to eat, some warm clothing, or a place to sleep. Many of these people said repeatedly that they did not stay at the City Mission specifically because of the bedbug problem, the dose of religion that they did not want or need, or the 30/30, 30/60, 30/90 policy of days in/days out.

    This incident just once again shines a light on the large, silent problem that Lincoln’s Administrations have tried to sweep under the carpet the past years – exacerbated by the economic collapse of 2007-08 – of the City’s homeless population and the denial of the size and extent.

    As for Meat, Gerard and Resist: There but for the grace of G-d go you. It could just as easily be you and yours seeking shelter on that porch. Judge ye not lest ye be judged is, I believe, what the Book says.

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Just because I chose not to access the Internet on a daily basis, nor spend all my time monitoring Watchdog like you because I have better things to do with my life unlike a loser troll like you, does not mean that I do not care for my community and the things that happen in it.

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    All of the organizations in Lincoln are over capacity on any given night. Often it’s not a question of of willingness, but inability on the organization’s part, other times the people in need of assistance do NOT want the strings that come attached to said assistance.

  • resistwemuch

    WFL: Your quote “judge ye not lest ye be judged” is a laugher as that is all you have done in every one of your crazy posts. Your long winded rants are tiresome. Do you really believe that the more words you write the more it makes you appear/sound like an informed intellectual? Sorry, not.

  • JoeSixPack56

    Run Cherie Clark, run!

  • JoeSixPack56

    Does the Lincoln City Mission get any taxpayer support from the city or state? If they do, are they legally allowed to preach? What about the separation of church and state?

  • Kitkat33

    No, they don’t.