Try after try fails to help elderly vet with Section 8 problems

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Volunteers are again trying to solve a local veteran's housing problem so he can stay in his apartment. The Korean War vet relies on Section 8 assistance with this rent, but for the second time the stove in the unit may not pass a required inspection.

The plight of 82-year-old Bill Quigley got a lot of attention after Eyewitness News highlighted his problem. He served as an Air Force cook, and he didn't mind that the gas stove in his Bakersfield apartment only had three working burners. But, that didn't pass the inspection for Section 8. And if the unit doesn't pass a re-inspection, Quigley would be forced to move in order to keep his rental assistance.

"I don't know what to do, I cry half the night," Quigley told Eyewitness News at the end of May. That's when viewers started calling with offers of help.

One of those was Chris Stille, he's a supervisor with a major utility. On May 27, Stille came out to the apartment and tried to fix the gas range, but one burner was so badly damaged it could not be repaired. Officials with the Housing Authority of Kern County have told Eyewitness News each appliance must function as designed in order to pass Section 8 inspection.

After the original stove couldn't be fixed, last week the landlord put a replacement stove in Quigley's apartment. But it also had problems. One burner doesn't light up properly.

On Tuesday, Stille again volunteered his personal time and came out to fix that range. He checked it all over, but it also couldn't be repaired. One burner only worked intermittently.

"It comes on sometimes, and other times it's not," Stille explained. Also, with the burners on the left side, the turn-on knob for the front lights up the back burner -- and vice versa. "Something's been crossed over in the way this is operating. I have a feeling that somebody lifted the top, which damages the appliance," he said.

Stille had to tell Quigley this second stove probably won't pass the Section 8 inspection.

The veteran has lived in the small, one-bedroom unit for fourteen years. He doesn't want to move, and doubts he can afford the cost of a deposit and first- and last-month's rent for a different apartment.

But, other offers to provide him with a new stove have come in, and Quigley's ready to consider that. "I'd like to have another stove," the vet said. "If I'm going to fail (the inspection), they may give me another 30 days, but what's the sense in that?" He thinks the landlord doesn't care.

But, volunteers are lining up to help Quigley, and Eyewitness News will contact those folks and also call the Housing Authority again to see what the best course of action will be.

Stille put in over an hour trying to fix the first stove, and was more than happy to try again with the replacement. He has no doubt it's important to help this veteran.

"This man, he did so much for the country," Stille said. "Really it's the least I can do. He's just such a nice man."