HAYWARD (KPIX) — A couple living in Hayward claims the city wants them to clean up a mess near their property that they say shouldn’t be their responsibility.

“I’m certainly in a quandary and I don’t know what to do,” Lorraine Souza told KPIX. She has lived in her Hayward home with her husband and children for 30 years.

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Just before the pandemic started, a man who was homeless parked his broken-down vehicle filled with belongings at the top of their private dirt driveway. He has lived there ever since ..

“I don’t know what to say to the homeless. It’s not a crime,” said Souza.

She says they have tolerated his need for a place to live

“He is a decent man,” said one family member.

But then the Souzas said they started getting visits from Alameda County code enforcement officers for having garbage on the property. Those visits were followed by notices of non-compliance that started arriving in the mail with the fees close to $400.

“I couldn’t sleep,” Souza said of the concerns she felt after the notices.

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According to the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance, trash and debris is not allowed to accumulate on private property and it is the property owner’s responsibility to remove and dispose of it properly.

“If I were to take it…to me, that’s stealing. I don’t know if I’ll get arrested or if it’s right,” said Souza.

The family says they feel like they are being treated like criminals because of someone else’s homelessness. They want to be tolerant of his struggle to find a job and a home.

“Part of their issues because it’s COVID they don’t want to just move people,” said Souza’s husband Patrick Crosby. “They basically left each time, not able to do anything. Now things turned around and it’s our responsibility even though they couldn’t do anything about it.”

Code enforcement issued the following statement:

“We will continue to collaborate with other county agencies to see if we can come up with a workable plan to clean up the property. We will also continue to collaborate with other county agencies to see if there are other solutions to help the person experiencing homelessness.”

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But the county also made it clear the goal of code enforcement action is to remove debris and trash and to be responsive to complaints in the neighborhood.

Juliette Goodrich