CORVALLIS, Ore. — A man is in jail accused of making himself at home in a house that wasn’t his.
Corvallis police arrested 56-year-old Jaime Doherty after a landlord discovered that someone was staying inside one of his vacant homes.
Smida Abdelli rents out a house on SW 3rd Street in downtown Corvallis, and the previous tenants recently moved out. Abdelli says he has since cleaned the house for the next tenants.
On Monday evening, Abdelli says his neighbor called him saying someone was living in the vacant house. When the landlord came to visit the site, nobody was there. Then Abdelli says a man appeared on the property.
“He was asking me who I was and I didn’t tell him I was the owner,” Abdelli said. “But I asked him if he had stuff in the house. He said: ‘Yes, I have stuff here.’ So I called 911.”
Abdelli says the man used every room in the house, including the bathroom, kitchen, both bedrooms, and had put his items in the closets. He also had posted return address stickers on some of the walls.
“There was water on the floor in the bathroom,” Abdelli said. “So it looks like he took a shower. There was also some weird stuff in the refrigerator. And bologna.”
Police arrested Doherty Monday evening for burglary in the first degree, criminal trespass in the first degree, and criminal mischief in the second degree.
According to the police report, Doherty stayed at the house for 2-3 days.
“This was supposed to be clean and in a rentable condition,” Abdelli said as he pointed to the counters, which were partially covered in a brownish goop. “And this is how he left the countertop.”
Doherty’s reason for breaking in? The police report says he was tired of living under a bridge.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Abdelli said.
Although the landlord is frustrated about the mess, he says he is not upset. Instead, he says the break-in paints a larger community issue of homelessness.
“I felt bad because this guy looked innocent – he has to do something – and that’s what he did,” he said. “Because he needed a place.”
Did Doherty have anywhere to go? KEZI 9 News spoke with Community Outreach, Inc, the only homeless shelter in Corvallis during the summer months. The facility serves single men, women, and families.
Community Outreach says it is at capacity for families and single men. It has a few beds available for single women, but not for men.
“It tells me that there’s a need,” said Ty Pos, the Director of Social Services at the facility. “It tells me that there are a lot of people who are trying really hard to find housing. It’s very difficult, especially in Corvallis.”
But Community Outreach says it will work with anyone who comes to its door – at least to try to find another available shelter in a nearby city. Even if the person cannot stay at Community Outreach for the night, he or she will get help in other ways.
“Anyone who comes to our door will get some kind of service whether it be a food box, someone to listen to; case management.” Pos said.