SAN DIEGO -- After years of concern about an elderly couple living in the backyard of a filthy Bay Ho "hoarder house," the city says they're stepping in to clean up the home and help the property owners.
William House, a 79-year-old Vietnam veteran, and Linda House, his 76-year-old partner who uses a wheelchair, had been living in a Forney Street home "under deplorable conditions," city inspectors say. Investigators described large piles of trash and debris inside the home and in the yard. Neighbors complained of feral cats, skunks and opossums.
The Houses were living in a camper shell and RV in the backyard for more than 5 years. They used portable toilets, took sponge baths in the yard and cooked on a portable stove outdoors, according to inspectors. "There was simply too much trash to even enter the residence," the City Attorney's Office said.
In 2018 the City ordered the couple to repair the property themselves, but inspections that followed proved the Houses weren't able to rehabilitate on their own. So on Thursday a San Diego Superior Court Judge signed an order placing the property under the control of a court-approved "receiver" to oversee the rehabilitation process.
Officials will clean up and renovate the home, also offering "counseling, therapy or treatment services to the property owners."
The city will recover the costs of rehabilitation, cleanup, attorney fees, and receiver fees from the property owners.
“Compulsive hoarding is often a cry for help,” City Attorney Mara W. Elliott said. “I commend the Bay Ho community members who cared enough to report their concerns to the City. By intervening, we brought peace of mind to the impacted neighbors and needed resources to this elderly couple.”
FOX 5 spoke to the homeowner, off-camera, who said that the city isn't helping them at all.
"We don't need counseling," House said. "After a while, you accumulate a number of things."
House added that they do not live in the backyard anymore, living with friends instead. "The city isn't helping, it's violating our rights," House said.