Disabled man kicked off housing program for inspection problem

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James Wesley sits with Ted Oberg in his apartment. (KTRK)

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For 17 years, James Wesley has lived in his apartment on Houston's north side.

"It's nice," Wesley said. "It's always quiet."

James is on disability with a bad back. Since 2001, he's had a Section 8 housing voucher from the Houston Housing Authority for a little more than half the rent. Due to his back problems, he said he couldn't bend down to clean his bathroom and that was enough to fail a cleanliness inspection about a year ago.

For that, the Housing Authority kicked him off Section 8, making him responsible for the full rent, a bill he couldn't pay.

"They took me out of housing because they said my toilets wasn't clean enough," Wesley said.
He didn't notice until the bills piled up and a deputy knocked on his door with an eviction notice two days after Christmas.

"I guess around 6, 6:30 in the morning and they handed me this," Wesley said, holding the notice.

He had ten days to come up with nearly $2,500. He skipped some groceries, took every penny of his life savings and it wasn't enough. He took out a title loan on his car, a little less than $1,000 at incredibly high interest.

"James, the annual interest rate on this loan is 182 percent," said ABC13's Ted Oberg.

"I did not know that," Wesley said.

It still wasn't enough.

"That's when I called channel 13 and put me in touch with you. I've seen on TV that you come and help people and I need help," Wesley said.

ABC13 called the Housing Authority wondering how a dirty bathroom could put a disabled senior on the street.

That call got Wesley a new inspection. This time inspectors had a different finding, and James was placed back on housing assistance.

"You'd be surprised," Wesley said. "You've done a lot."

But it wasn't all solved. Wesley didn't appeal the first failed inspection in time, and the housing authority can't reimburse his savings or the money on that very tough loan. Wesley is determined to work hard to make it.

"I was going to be homeless. I was going to be in the streets," Wesley said.
He's still in the apartment. The housing voucher kicked back in a few weeks ago and he was able to make a small payment on the loan.

Since the story aired, a number of people have reached out to help Wesley repay that loan right away.

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hometurn to tedaffordable housingdisability
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