75-Year-Old South Sacramento Man Fights to Get Back Home

SOUTH SACRAMENTO -- One of the most interesting houses in South Sacramento is a log cabin on Florin Road.

From the gators, to the horses, to the gates and the bridge, it has all been handpicked and custom built.

"As I go I think of things," said Leon Dotson.

The home is eclectic, but Dotson would not have it any other way. The problem is for the last 10 years or so the City of Sacramento has been telling him he must.

Dotson first met bankruptcy attorney Pete Macaluso in 2007, when he couldn`t make the payments on his home. Macaluso helped Dotson restructure into a mortgage he could afford, but soon realized Dotson was in danger of losing the house another way.

"We removed six trailers full of stuff, cleaned it up, met with the code enforcement people, got him permission to move back in," Macaluso said.

Ten years later, the same problem has resurfaced, Macaluso says. Only this time he says city code enforcement is pursuing the case more strongly.

"They gave us a new list of 22 things and shut the electric off," Macaluso said.

He does not deny the home has serious issues, but he says they have been working diligently to try to fix them -- but, apparently, not quickly enough. Dotson said code enforcement showed up with police Nov. 1.

"That was very scary, I have nightmares about it all the time," Dotson said.

Dotson was forced out of the home, saying it was not safe, and the 75-year-old was dropped off at a McDonald's. Officers told him he could not go back to his house and he has been homeless ever since.

Dotson does not seem to understand what he`s doing wrong. Macaluso does not think the City of Sacramento has made an effort to deal with what he sees as a special situation involving mental health issues.

The city`s latest move would allow a third party to take control of the home and Macaluso worries that paves the way for him to lose it permanently.

"Why wouldn`t they send their social workers out here to talk to him?" Macaluso said. "Why wouldn't they protect our senior citizens, who are actually property owners, rather than making somebody homeless?"

Macaluso, Dotson and neighborhood volunteers fix what they can in hopes it will be enough to change the city`s mind, but they`re only allowed to work inside the house during daylight hours. So, every evening the 75-year-old makes the long, slow walk out down his bridge.

Macaluso has been helping him find places to stay the night, but there`s no place like home.

"God blessed me with this house. This is a blessing," Dotson said.

FOX40 reached out to Sacramento Code Enforcement about Dotson's case but did not receive a response.