When veteran Ron Burden ended up in the VA hospital for an extended stay, he never would have guessed what would happen to his home while he was away.
According to Burden, the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing, or VASH, helped him get his own apartment in Tampa, Florida, after he lived on the streets, reported ABC Action News.
When he was forced to take an extended stay in the James A. Haley VA Medical Center due to a brain injury, Burden told ABC Action News that squatters moved into his apartment and have refused to leave.
ABC Action News’s I-Team spotted the squatter walking down the street near Burden’s apartment and confronted her.
According to Burden, the woman brings strangers back to his apartment regularly.
She told the I-Team that Burden allows her to stay at his government-subsidized apartment and that she pays him rent. He says that’s just not true.
“It’s outrageous,” one of Burden’s neighbors, who requested to remain unidentified, said. "It’s crazy. It’s messing our neighborhood up."
Burden’s neighbor says that since the squatters took up residence in the apartment, there has a significant increase in the amount of suspicious people in the neighborhood.
Burden said that the woman found a key to his apartment that he had hidden under a brick. Since moving in, the woman created a hole in the drywall in his kitchen and has left rotting food and trash around the apartment. She even attacked Burden, biting his hand.
The veteran says that he cannot even access his bathroom or sleep in his own bed thanks to the squatter. He added that neither the VASH program nor the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office have done anything to remove the squatters from his home. The agencies say that the situation is a civil matter because they cannot determine who is the legitimate resident of the home.
“They just moved in and took over my house and the cops said it was cool, and once they told her it was cool, she ain’t leaving,” Burden said.
Burden said that he can’t take too much more.
“I gotta go live on the street while they live in my house,” he said.
Burden’s story comes following a similar story in New Port Richey, Florida, in which Army Spc. Michael Sharkey had his home broken into by squatters while he was deployed, according to The Blaze. Two Tampa-based motorcycle clubs took it upon themselves to scare the squatters away after police similarly said they could not help remove them.