Hovel or Home? Castro Valley House Creates Controversy Among Neighbors - NBC Bay Area
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Hovel or Home? Castro Valley House Creates Controversy Among Neighbors

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Neighbors have cried fould play after seeing living conditions they call filthy, even despicable. Now complaints have led to an investigations by the county. LiLi Tan reports. (Published Friday, Jan. 1, 2016)

    Neighbors in a Castro Valley neighborhood have cried foul play after seeing living conditions they call “filthy,” even “despicable,” and complaints have led to an investigation by Alameda County.

    Living conditions seem to be a question of standards. Residents living in the home on Tanglewood Drive say their time there has been “great” and rooms are “sunny.”

    On the other hand, neighbors say they toured a home that “should be uninhabitable,” said Linda Honeyman, who lives down the street from Jonathan Carlton’s home.

    “Clothes, garbage on the floor, no bedding, dirty, dirty clothes on the floor,” Honeyman said.

    Alameda County’s Adult Protective Services is now investigating the Castro Valley home after Honeyman and other neighbors called the Sheriff’s Office about resident Robert Korman’s well-being. Korman went to Honeyman when Carlton was on vacation for two weeks and he did not have anyone to prepare food for him. Carlton says he provides one meal per day, but is not a caretaker.

    “I would say, dirty to whom? First of all, I find it insulting people would judge how another person lives,” said Carlton, whose Aunt owns the home. Prior to 2014, the home was a care facility for seniors before losing its license for health and safety violations, according to neighbors.

    Carlton says he rents out four rooms to people, many of whom who have been homeless at one point in their lives, in order to pay the mortgage.

    “It’s been great. What do you see? Just looks like an ordinary home,” said Jason Swiney, who pays $800 per month and believes the dispute is an issue of classism. “It looked fine to me.”

    Susan Stwora and her sister pay $1500 per month to share a room.

    “When I went in my bedroom and saw what would be my bedroom – bright and cheerful,” said Stwora, whose closet had black spots in it. Neighbors say it’s mold, while Carlton says it’s dust.

    “People have to clean up after themselves but in their personal space I’m not going to tell you, well, you have to make your bed. This is not a facility,” Carlton said.

    “Flies on the wall, dirty garbage cans, etc. There could be some judgment there, but there was a person who lived there that wanted to leave,” Honeyman said.

    As of New Year’s Day, Korman was living in another home.

    But in the end, the State will decide the living standards. The California Department of Social Services will inspect the house sometime in the New Year to check on residents and see if the home needs a state license.

    The Alameda County Planning Department says the house does not have a “use permit,” which is required when housing four or more people.

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