Neighbors blame SAHA for dirty tenant

Old food, dog manure said to be in SAHA apartment; Neighbors say SAHA waited too long to clean

Author: Brian Mylar, Reporter,
Published On: Nov 13 2012 06:06:01 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 13 2012 06:57:32 PM CST

The fight to evict a 75-year-old San Antonio Housing Authority tenant has been a lengthy process, frustrating the agency and causing his neighbors to call the KSAT 12 Defenders.

The resident, John Joseph Bannon, has lived for months at the O.P. Schnabel Apartments south of downtown.

Neighbor Eddie Belmares said Bannon has been a messy packrat since he moved in and that he is concerned about sanitary conditions in Bannon’s apartment.

"The junkyard don't smell that bad," Belmares said.

Belmares said SAHA was forced to clean out the apartment and he was amazed at what was found.

"He had old chicken in pots,” Belmares said. “He had dog manure. He had old food that stunk the whole place outside."

Peggy Harvey helps with the food service at O.P. Schnabel and said she has had confrontations with Bannon before.

"We are in fear because we don't know what he might do," Harvey said.

They asked the KSAT 12 Defenders to find out why SAHA has not forced Bannon to clean up. But the housing authority has its own problems with Bannon.

SAHA spokeswoman Ximena Copa-Wiggins said Bannon owes back rent and that he has been evicted.

However, she said, Bannon refuses to leave.

"We do have to follow federal policies or protocol and we are also tied to the fact that he does have a right to due process," Copa-Wiggins said.

That due process brought Bannon and SAHA to the Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 court downtown. On the stand before a jury, Bannon admitted he did not pay the rent.

"I did not pay April, May or June," Bannon said at the trial.

Judge Monica Caballero ruled in favor of SAHA.

"I don't see that there is any fact issue left for the jurors to decide at this point," Caballero said in finding for SAHA.

But Bannon is appealing the ruling, meaning he is staying put at O.P. Schnabel for now.

To further explain, Bannon said he did not pay rent because the San Antonio Food Bank stopped providing him with food.

"So I had to go to Luby's and eat,” Bannon said. “And I used the rent money to eat. I had to eat. Do I pay rent or do I eat?"

The San Antonio Food Bank said Bannon was not cut off but that he stopped picking up his food and so was then removed from the list of those eligible to receive commodities.

Bannon's appeal in county court will be heard next month. Meanwhile, SAHA and his neighbors will have to wait.

The food bank takes people off its list if they don't pick up their food so that food can go to other needy people.

Bannon did re-apply for help from the food bank and did pick up his last box of food from the charity.