TALBOTT (WATE) – It is really different when people in need live close by. You may drive by their house every day, see their plight, but if you don’t know the family in need, often you drive by and do nothing.
If they are your neighbor and you see their house everyday outside your window, that’s a different situation.
People who live near Jake McKinney in Talbott are concerned about him and his wife Evelyn, who walks with two canes. Their neighbor James Bowlin called 6 On Your Side.
“Well, she needs help, she does. They both need help. Me and my wife, we can’t believe they’re living like this,” said Bowlin.
Living conditions at the couple’s home are bad. Their three-acre piece of property is filled with vehicles, many of which don’t run. There’s also no running water or septic tank on the property.
We asked Evelyn McKinney where she goes to the bathroom.
“In the woods, away from people where they won’t see you,” she said, with a laugh. She said their camper has a bathroom, but they have no money to have it hooked up.
Jake, 78, says he and Evelyn have lived here for 18 years, but recently hit hard times. Their only shelter is a camper but he says it leaks. So in the summer. they live and sleep outside.
“When it’s cold, I stay in one of them trucks,” said Jake.
Their neighbor says he contacted Jefferson County in may about the couple’s well-being.
“The health department, that man come out here. He was out here for five minutes, never did get out of the vehicle,” said Bowlin.
A police report was filed, but in six weeks little had changed for the couple when we visited.
“They ain’t been out here yet,” said Jake.
“I ain’t doing too good,” said Evelyn. “My leg. Everything hurts,”
Evelyn says the pain starts in her foot and shoots all the way up her leg. She’s hasn’t seen a doctor, even though the sheriff’s report urged someone to visit the 62-year-old.
Jake says the yard is messy because he recycles stuff to bring in extra money. However, Jake says he hasn’t sold much junk recently, so he gets by with a meager Social Security disability check.
Evelyn says she also receives Social Security disability, but their two checks don’t go very far.
Their electric hook up, seen on a pole, is alarming. From the outlet, drop cords are connected to outdoor lights and to appliances like a refrigerator, which is hooked up outdoors.
Jake admits he’s been meaning to clean up the place and says he’s like to have water and septic, but doesn’t have enough money to pay for it.
“See I worked all my life. This little rock pile here is all I got to show for it,” he said.
“Would you like someone to come out here and help?” we asked.
“Yes. Somebody could help. I would like them to help anything they can help with,” said Evelyn
6 On Your Side contracted agencies within Jefferson County that could aid the couple. The Office on Aging and Disability is one source to provide assistance.
“They will try to contact that individual by telephone and arrange an in-home visit to try and assess what their needs may be,” said John Bender with the Area Agency on Aging.
Bender says his offices don’t force anything on anyone, and with their permission, can start the process to get help.
Evelyn told us she has an appointment in a few weeks for doctors to take a look at her painful feet and legs.
Jake says his most pressing issue is getting a septic tank on the property. He recently had prostate surgery and told us he’s recovery is going fine, but conditions at his place aren’t very clean.
Every county in East Tennessee has an Office on Aging and Disability that can assist people like Jake and Evelyn.
You can contact them toll-free at 1-866-836-6678.