LA FERIA — On the outside the small home looks typical.
Inside it’s a candidate for the popular TV show, “Hoarders.”
The terrible sanitary issues and foul smell of cat food, kitty litter and boxes of filth would cause most people to walk away from the house gasping for air.
But owner Bill Gray doesn’t want it to be like that anymore and others are ready to help him.
Gray will be receiving a hand from the local community to help him clean up his home.
“On Wednesday and Thursday before Veterans Day there is going to be a massive clean up,” said Eric Hoff, La Feria city commissioner. “I mean everything is leaving.”
And on Veterans Day there is going to be a ceremony at this home recognizing him for his military duty.
Gray, 72, an Army and Navy Veteran has filled his home with cats, old books, unused home accessories and old stuff that he has let pile up into a mess.
“Mother never taught me to keep up the house,” Gray said. “I have everything where I can navigate through.”
He admitted his mom was a hoarder and he is a hoarder.
“I am going to get over that,” Gray said. “I’m going to keep only what I need, my computer and my family pictures.”
His mother died one year ago at the age of 97.
Since his mother’s death, Gray said he just let every thing stay where it landed.
“It wasn’t depression, but yet it was,” he said.
Only a single painting on the wall shows off color and natural beauty of the outdoors.
Under the painting sits a table his cats jump on to get away from the clutter that fills the room.
“An organization that specializes in hoarding will be in town before Veterans Day to help Gray clean out his home,” Hoff said.
Hoff said the city toured Gray’s home with public works and public safety on Monday.
“He hasn’t been in his kitchen in a very long time,” Hoff said.
Gray said he is happy the community is coming to his aid and acknowledging him a local military hero even though he doesn’t see himself as one.
“I don’t feel that way,” Gray said. “I went in and did my 20 years, and I did my job.”
Gray was a sailor on the USS Scott Navy destroyer.
He said he traveled around the world performing military exercises with the Navy.
Gray retired from the Navy in 1988 on a medical discharge.
After that he worked odd jobs and even took up a distribution route with the Valley Morning Star delivering the daily newspaper to area subscribers stretching from Mercedes to Harlingen.
It’s been years since he’s delivered the newspaper and for Gray he’s become accustomed to the dusty home and walking around overflowed kitty litter tubs and piles of stuff in his home.
But, he is glad the community is going to help him clean out the house and do some repairs next week. He hopes it changes his life.
Gray doesn’t invite guests into his home because it’s difficult to walk through the rooms.
He prefers to meet with people outside his home on the front lawn or under his covered porch that is cluttered with kitty litter, two chairs and a BBQ pit among other things.
He called the porch the cleanest part of his home.
“The biggest problem is getting up and motivated in the morning,” Gray said. “I just don’t have the incentive to do things and the clutter just built up over time.”
Hoff said he has received some unbelievable amount of support to help Gray.
Hoff said the city and local leaders are also going to be involved in the clean up.
“We have a furniture store donating furniture and I got a contractor who’s going to do some repairs, and a lawn guy is going to put in some flower beds.”