Brothers with disabilities fight to keep Ohio home

Three adult brothers with developmental disabilities have lived all their days in a Columbus, Ohio, home that’s been in the family for generations. But the structure that holds possessions and memories is set to be demolished, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

The house is filled with a hoarder’s amount of belongings and filth and it’s blighted and unsafe for the Klein brothers — Fred, 71, Harry, 68, and Chris, 59 — city code officials told the newspaper.

Not only is the city planning to take their home, but the brothers may also be charged $15,000 to $25,000 for the demolition. The city could waive the charge.

Harry [Klein] said he and his brothers — all of whom have developmental disabilities and no income other than modest Social Security payments — are devastated.

The court’s offer to let them remove some of their belongings means little, he said. “We ain’t got nowhere to go with it. What’s the use of taking things you can’t keep?”

It would cost the Kleins about $75,000 to bring the house up to code, another impossible cost for the trio.

Two of the brothers have a court-appointed guardian who is trying to find a new home for all three of the men. A Medicaid waiver cannot be used to pay rent, but it can afford them the support they need to find a place to live, according to the Dispatch. The Kleins are currently staying with their sister.

“This is the next step in the process to obtain a safe and healthy residential placement for Fred and Harry,” Kevin Craine, [a lawyer who acts as guardian for Harry and Fred,] wrote in an email. “The ultimate goal will be to provide a supported living environment which includes suitable housing with a full array of supportive services from a certified provider.”

After noticing an absence of supports in the brothers’ case, a judge in an Ohio county court began developing a program to address hoarding and the associated mental-health issues, the Dispatch previously reported. The program would be the first of its kind in Ohio.

Reach Halle Stockton at 412-315-0263 or hstockton@publicsource.org.