PLUM BORO (KDKA) — There’s Ralph the dog and Gary – soon to be all that’s left of the Kastner home in Plum. It’s run down and beat up but it’s the only home Gary Kastner knows.
“They’re gonna come with the SWAT team and take me out,” he said. “It’s not that I would have guns or do anything. It’s just that they’d evict me.”
That has already started to happen. The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare sent Kastner a letter saying the, “premises must be vacated within 30 days, Nov. 7, 2011.”
“This property is scheduled to be sold,” Kastner read from the letter.
This has been the Kastner home for nearly 60 years. When mom was alive it was so clean, Gary says, you could eat off of the floors.
Not anymore. Marjory Kastner had a stroke five years ago and moved to a nursing home. After she went through her insurance, pension and savings, the state put her on medical assistance.
The family figured that meant her care was covered. But after she died last year came the shocker – the state wants reimbursed to the tune of $94,000.
“They put her on medical assistance and they got that debt and they want repaid so they’re gonna take my home and I have no place to go,” he said.
There may be a way out through an undue hardship waiver.
Kastner has to prove he was living here, prove he was taking care of his mother here before she was institutionalized and prove he’s too broke to pay the money his mother owed when she passed.
Kastner: “I make $11.55 an hour.”
Marty Griffin: “You can’t come close to $94,000?”
Kastner: “Absolutely not. I have nothing.”
Right now, Kastner is living what can best be described as a squatter’s life on the property.
The house is still in his mom’s name but her will indicated he could stay here as long as he wanted. He has no intention of leaving regardless of what the lady at the state Department of Welfare tells him.
“It seems like every door that I try to open to save the house is closed to me,” Kastner said. “It’s depressing. It really is depressing.”