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City cleans up filthy conditions of hoarder house

CINCINNATI (Rich Jaffe) -- An East Price Hill man is in jail Monday night because of the dangerous mess in and around his home.

That mess is so extensive that Monday city officials and clean up crews descended on the small house on Atson Lane and took care of at least some of the cleanup themselves.
 
The Clements' home is so packed with stuff that according to court records, fire inspectors have been here at least 25 times in the last 2 years trying to get John and Joseph Clements, his son, to clean the place up.  When a home is stuffed like that it's unsafe for the residents, the neighbors and even firefighters because it's a fire hazard and it could be a death trap for emergency crews.

But it's not just the inside of this place, it's the outside as well.  Bit by bit, trash can by trash can, the private clean up crews hired by the city knocked down the mountain of trash, garbage and scavenged treasures that have been accumulating around the Clements' home for years.

Neighbors say the mess here is impacting their property values.  Bill bailey lives two doors away.

He tells us, "We had problems with rodents because of the piles of trash in the back yard.  Vehicles, because they used to park all the vehicles out in the street, and every Sunday night when everybody's putting their garbage out for pickup they would go out and pick up stuff and haul it in the yard."

While John Clements and his son Joseph have been in violation of city fire and health codes since 2011, they probably didn't help their situation when they let cameras from the show "Hoarding: Buried Alive" inside the house.  They documented the stacks of trash, maggots in food left around the kitchen, and the family's combative nature with neighbors.

SCPA Cincinnati officers confiscated 16 cats and one rabbit on one occasion and another 5 cats on a second visit.

Moving in on private property by court order is not something any of the officials do lightly.

Bill Jacoby from the Cincinnati Health Department says, "The beginning of the process is a civil citation to the property owner.  They're allowed a 10 day period to bring the property into compliance.  We'll do a followup inspection after 10 days.  If the property is not in compliance at that point there's language in the municipal code that allow city staff to go on to the private property and do that."

John Clements is currently in jail for violating fire code regulations.
He also threatened city fire inspector Steve Coldiron according to court documents.  His son Joseph went off when police told him we were doing nothing illegal by filming the clean up.

Neighbors say the mess and the problems at the Clements' home have been growing for years.  And so has their resolve to do something about it.

Bill Bailey said, "We been fighting this issue for about 7 years now we been notifying the city, Board of Health, litter patrol and everybody about this property and it took a petition that the neighbors got together and sent to Judge Mock asking him to take the maximum action against these people to get this place cleaned up."

And they did, at least to some degree.  The biggest problem is, there's no way to guarantee that tomorrow, next trash day or next month the Clements won't be stacking stuff up again.  About the only way to make sure of that is for the neighbors to stay vigilant and in touch with the authorities.

Apparently city officials are also going to try another approach by taking John Clements to court again but in a different way.  It's possible because the property has become such a nuisance that the city could actually take control of it and either sell it or demolish it.  We'll let you know what happens when both sides appear in court later this month.

Watch video HERE

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