Volunteers help keep local woman from losing her home

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COPLEY TWP., Ohio - In January, Copley Township adopted a code enforcement policy intended to help maintain property values throughout the community.

The policy gives code enforcement officer, Jeffrey Newman, the authority to order people out of their homes if the buildings are deemed a public nuisance or unfit.

Newman says that when he went to the home of Betty Walker, the conditions he found there entitled him to tell her she needed to vacate.

Walker says the home has a roof that is collapsing so it leaks every time it rains. There are foundation problems and issues with mold.

"Because of the condition of the roof,  the ceiling has now broken through, when it rains. I jokingly say I have to use an umbrella in my house to cook or whatever, but it's really not a joke; it's serious," said Walker.

Her husband was building a new addition that would have given them a new kitchen, dinette, bathroom, bedrooms and a living room, but he died in February 2015 leaving the work unfinished and Betty without the means to complete it herself.

"I had zero income.  The violations officer, I had spoke with him, and told him I don't know what to do; I'm in a bind," said Walker.

Since his death, even the part of the new addition that had been done has severely weathered.

"I didn't want to tear it down. This was his dream. I wanted to finish it for the kids," Walker told Fox 8 News.

Newman said if he was to order Walker to vacate he would be sending her and her son and daughter out onto the streets with no place else to live.

So rather than enforce the policy, he set out to do something remarkable.

Newman enlisted the help of local churches and businesses. He talked with a local contractor and was able to get volunteers and donations of materials including gravel and lumber and tools.

The goal is now to complete the addition that Walker's husband started.

"She has children in the home and they have a homestead there; they have a family history there. Their father was starting to build a house and passed away so that certainly is a unique story and this is a unique situation," said township administrator, Janice Marshall.

"Betty's husband, Kevin, had rough plans that he was going to build a house here and I think it's a great honor to Kevin that we could do that for Betty," said Wes Henry of the Angels in Blue Jeans Ministry.

"All volunteer work. The 23 people that have been in here from Guardian Angels-- not a penny has been offered," said Henry, adding, "there's a lot of good human nature out there; believe me, a lot of good people."

The expectation is that the new addition can be completed by winter. The part of the house in which Walker is now living will then be demolished.

"It's hard to understand how all this has come together; it's very hard," said Walker.​