ORANGEVALE, Calif. – For 84 years, twin brothers Clifford and Gary Koekoek have done everything together.
They survived the Nazi occupation in their native Netherlands, together. They moved to the U.S. and briefly worked in Hollywood, together. They both served in the military. But now, they’ve become homeless, yet again – together.
“Right now, I’m broke,” Clifford told KTXL-TV. “Sometimes we don’t eat.”
In 2007, they wanted to fix the roof on their Orangevale, California home, which they say they bought from their mother. The house has been in their family since 1984.
“We took a loan thinking that we had a conventional loan,” said Gary.
But it wasn’t a conventional loan. It was an adjustable rate loan, meaning their payments got higher and higher over time. Eventually, they couldn’t afford it, and the bank foreclosed on their house.
In October of last year, the twins were kicked out. The men had nowhere to turn and began sleeping together in a car they share.
When asked if they ever feel overwhelmed, Clifford responded, “I do … all the time,” as he fought back tears.
“I would almost say it’s hell,” said Gary.
The two say they spend most of their time now just walking. Both log plenty of hours at the Sacramento Public Library in Orangevale. Gary mostly pores over deed records, trying to find a way to get their house back.
But the odds aren’t good.
“They were just living in their car in front of Raley’s when I found out,” said Aaron Hoerner, a friend of the family for about ten years. He’s been making a social media push to find them permanent housing. The whole experience, he says, gives him a new perspective on homelessness.
“It’s easy to walk by and not look at their situation but if you stop and talk to somebody, everybody has a story,” said Hoerner.
Their story has certainly had its dramatic ups and downs. And at age 84, they seem to have hit their most difficult chapter.
“It’s a lot of stress. I’d rather go back to the war and get shot at, than this crap,” said Clifford.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the brothers out. You can donate here.