A Northwest Suburban man at odds with his neighbors and the village hall is living in a van outside his home while fighting to keep it.
Cars, cans, bottles and other items adorn the front yard of John Wuerffel's home, on the 1400 block of Hampton Lane, in Schaumburg. Many of the items are things Wuerffel collects and takes to Michigan, where they can be turned in for recycling at $.10 apiece.
"I steal cans," the 62-year-old said. "I got to live."
Yards away, a padlock prevents him from entering his house. His lender, HSBC Mortgage Corp., is evidently fearful that Wuerffel would damage the property during foreclosure proceedings. Still, he's trying to obtain a reverse mortgage to stop the proceedings so he can move back in.
"I'm homeless because I am behind $9,600 in bills. It's crazy," said Wuerffel, who claims to suffer from bi-polar disorder.
But it's the condition of the yard that's got many of his neighbors irked. The village is seeking a judge’s permission to clean up the property for Weurffel. A hearing has been set for Friday.
"It hasn’t been that bad, but over the years it got worse," explained neighbor Patrick Jankowski.
Village Manager Kenneth Fritz said city workers did similar cleanups in 2008 and 2009 but Wueffel has not been willing to cooperate.
Fritz said the village’s only interest is to make sure that the building is structurally sound and that the property doesn’t create a nuisance for the neighbors.
Wuerffel said he's been busy with trying to clean up his front yard to avoid the cost of another city cleanup.
"Now I’m in compliance, living on my front lawn and watching my property cause people steal things," he said.