Man living in renovated mine shaft ordered to move

In 2019, police in Boulder City, Nevada described an alarming trend. According to Chief Tim Shea, "Officers found people using mine shafts and camps that had been their 'home base' for months, even years." These makeshift mine shaft homes could pose a danger to people occupying them. Yet as of October 2019, Boulder City didn't have a homeless shelter or even a program geared toward helping people with no place to go. Instead, city officials have effectively told the homeless to go to hell.

Per Boulder Weekly, the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law Homeless Advocacy Policy Project found that between 2010 and 2014, authorities issued nearly 3,100 citations in accordance with eight ordinances that targeted the homeless. Among the restrictions is a camping ban that predictably and overwhelmingly impacted people living on the streets. Trapped between a Boulder and no place at all, homeless residents understandably flock to the mine shafts. Among them is Richard Roman, who resided in a mine shaft for seven years, according to the Associated Press. However, in December 2019, the city moved to evict him.

Getting mine-shafted

The Las Vegas Review-Journal likens Richard Roman to a "weathered" Hugh Hefner with the resourcefulness of Robinson Crusoe. The man with the playboy face created a mine shaft mansion to match. Carved into a rocky ridge above Boulder City, Roman's underground abode goes 20 feet beneath the surface. It's decked out with wooden doors, a psychedelic-looking casino carpet, and LED lights powered by a $2,000 solar panel. He furnished the mine shaft with a mattress and used a propane tank to make coffee. He even rigged a tennis racket to serve as a rattlesnake catcher.

Roman's DIY mine shaft renovations give Extreme Makeover: Home Edition a run for its money without the benefit of a reality show budget. "When I first checked it out, rats were afraid to come in here, it was so dirty," Roman recalled. He overcame his initial horror thanks to a horoscope that said, "Do not be afraid to enter the cave because what is in there you've been looking for all your life." He had spent much of his life drifting on the margins of society. As Roman put it, "I've always liked the nefarious kind of life."

Raised on a Nebraska farm and educated at Catholic school, Roman developed a nose for cocaine and engaged in gun trafficking after moving to California. Addiction would be his undoing. Naturally, he gravitated to Sin City, but substance abuse problems cost him a job and ruined a 23-year marriage. By comparison, the mine shaft sounds like heaven. However, Boulder City begged to differ. Citing safety concerns, authorities ordered Roman to moveĀ and gave him 30 days to vacate the premises.