CHARLEROI, PA. Homeless men evicted from veterans post
Without the club, the veterans would have slept on the street, officials said.
CHARLEROI, Pa. (AP) -- Two homeless veterans were evicted from a run-down veterans post after the death of a third man who was staying there.
Club officials had been letting the men stay at the post -- one slept in the bathroom, the other in a furnace room -- because they were down on their luck.
Michelle Mackey, a code enforcement officer for the borough of Charleroi, evicted the men from the Arden Calvert Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 167 on Tuesday. The club and borough officials are trying to arrange better living arrangements for the men.
"It broke my heart to go in there and do what I had to do," Mackey said.
"They were trying to do a good deed," Mackey said. "We're concerned about their [the occupants'] welfare, also. They served our country and it's unfortunate they are not being treated better."
She visited the club after a caller told her that another man, Thomas Yakich, 50, who died two weeks ago of a heart attack, had been sleeping in a cramped cloakroom at the club.
The club failed to comply with an ordinance that lets the borough inspect buildings before they're occupied, Borough Manager Bob Hodgson said.
According to club officials, the post may close soon because of declining membership. But they defended their decision to house the veterans, who otherwise would have slept on the street. Yakich had his legs amputated because of diabetes and was getting kidney dialysis when he died.
George Mullen, state adjutant of Pennsylvania's VFW chapters, said the organization is looking into the situation. The state organization can take over the post if it doesn't comply with club regulations.
Charles McBride, the post's commander, refused to comment on Mackey's visit.
Mackey identified the man living in the bathroom as Ralph Yakich, the dead man's brother. He was to be relocated immediately, but it wasn't clear where.
The other man was moved from the club's furnace room to a second-floor apartment on the condition club officials would clean up the run-down unit, Mackey said.