'They've found kind of a creative loophole'

EVERETT, Wash. -- "I used to use meth, now I'm just into marijuana."

That's what 28-year-old Sean Schroeder said before slipping back into the tent parked in an Everett back yard. Schroeder said he hit hard times after his sister died a year ago from a heroin overdose. He's homeless and said he's camping out to help the homeowner of a Marine View Drive home fix the flawed electrical problems that got the house condemned.

Schroeder is not an electrician. And he's not the only self-admitted drug user who hovered around the home.

The blue house on the corner has become a thorn in the side of Everett Police.

"This house violates any number of our municipal codes," said code enforcement supervisor Kevin Fagerstrom. They are allowed to enter the property but not to occupy it.

Fagerstrom said at least eight criminal cases have been filed against people who've been caught in the house in violation of the condemnation order. Neighbors call it the drug house and said if they see anyone inside after the 10 p.m. worker cutoff hour, they now call 911.

Fagerstrom said homeowner Andy Armitage is playing the system by erecting a camping tent in the yard and living in it while conducting repairs to the unsafe electrical system. Armitage wasn't home but at least two women and four men walked freely around his house.

"They are kind of gaming the system. They've found kind of a creative loophole," said Fagerstrom.

Everett doesn't have an ordinance that prohibits camping. Kids camp in yards with their parents.

"We just never expected that someone would turn to this as a viable option for their housing," Fagerstrom said.

The code enforcement officer said the city of Everett won't sanction that and is looking into legal options to address the problem.