Of primary importance among the list of repairs is reinstating running water, because with running water, he can get trash service. Scanlon still needs to clear out dozens of trash bags along with other relics from previous owners.
“Flying a sign that says ‘I’m homeless’ doesn’t feel right anymore,” says Scanlon, who’s owned the house since March. “I’ve got a house. It’s just not a home.” It was a slow climb for him to save enough money to do the work he’s performed on the house so far. “Rather than squandering my money away over the years, I saved a few thousand dollars and bought a home.”
Scanlon, 32, has been homeless for five or six years and most of the money he’s earned has been from panhandling. “If I’m lucky, I can make $200 in a week of nonstop panhandling (eight to 10 hours a day). Then I come back and don’t know who to give the money to or what to buy half the time.”
Although the house needs lots of work, it’s still in better condition than when he first bought it. “It was completely trashed and stripped of all of its electrical work, plumbing and piping, and there was trash all over the place, up to my knees,” says Scanlon, who adds he spent $1,000 in dumpster costs alone in the two weeks it took just to eliminate all of the initial trash from the home.
It’s far from finished, but at this point, it’s less about the money and more about the expertise. “If somebody could just come out and give me a free estimate, it would help a lot,” he adds. “I have no idea what I need. Especially when it comes to connecting my plumbing lines.”
Continued cleanup has become difficult, too, because Scanlon needs to bring his own bucket of water from elsewhere, and he’s only allowed to access the building between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
He has applied to a number of programs throughout the city and county, and so far, none of them have been able to cater to his specific needs. For example, Habitat for Humanity of Summit County’s A Brush With Kindness program only covers external repairs.
He’s not looking for handouts; rather, he needs some guidance, whether it’s from a contractor or someone who’s handy with fixer-uppers. Akron’s Department of Neighborhood Assistance has issued a report detailing nearly 30 items that need repaired at the home, ranging from electrical and plumbing work to chimney repair, eaves, gutters, removing carpet and fixing interior doors.
Scanlon says the previous owner grew frustrated when the former rental property fell into disrepair. Tenants neglected the house, and when this compounded with back taxes, she wanted to rid herself of the investment, so she sold it to Scanlon for the back taxes. Or about $1,000.
While he’s thankful to own a home, buying the house has negatively affected his Social Security benefits. “I have a seizure condition, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that hinder me from gaining and maintaining employment of virtually any kind,” he writes on his Go Fund Me page. “According to the policies of the Social Security Administration, since I own a home that I do not live in, the property is considered an asset over $2,000 dollars, which bars me from eligibility to apply for SSI checks.”
Those with any information or resources are encouraged to contact Scanlon at (330) 208-5434 or [email protected].
He’s also launched a Go Fund Me account to help with repairs: www.gofundme.com/homelesshomeowner.