The city of Richland has an unseen problem with squatters living in abandoned houses. They live sometimes for months without utilities and fill the house wall-to-wall with trash and sewage, according to news reports. The Richland Police Chief Mike Cobb says these "types of homes promote all kinds of safety hazards" and "If something were to happen, whether it's a medical emergency or a fire emergency, then we have to put the entire neighborhood at risk because of that potential hazard".

Currently the city code says it is not illegal trespassing if a "person is living in their own filth, even though the city condemns the property". The city is trying to get the law changed so they have more ability to fight the problem. The city council approves the change, police can charge both squatters and owners with a gross misdemeanor of trespassing if they are living in unsafe conditions.