Claire Yates's children say their mother has a heart of gold, and would give anyone the shirt off her back. In 1998, Yates started taking in boarders who paid rent to stay in her Biloxi home. Neighbors complained, and the city took Yates to court.
A judge ruled Yates violated zoning ordinances, and ordered her to stop letting people pay to stay in her house. Her attorney says she did. But Wednesday, the city took Yates to court again. Yates says she obeyed a court ruling that told her to stop allowing people to pay to live in her house on Kensington Drive in Biloxi. But since the 1998 court order, city officials say neighbors complained that Yates was still letting people, some of them homeless, stay at the house.
Yate's attorney admits his 67-year-old disabled client took in people, but she didn't take money from them.
"They would do chores for her around the house, and when the city found out there were still people coming to her house and staying there, they again filed a motion for contempt," Yate's attorney, Eddie Miller, said. "She's allowed people to stay there from time to time, but since the court order, she has not accepted any rent."
But city officials disagree.
"We have evidence that she is in violation," Biloxi's Chief Administravite Officer said. "She is having boarders overnight that are paying."
Yates followed her attorney's advise and didn't talk to WLOX. Her son says the police are harassing Yates by staking out the house and taking pictures of whoever stops by.
"You can't go there and feel like you have a family visit without pictures being flashed and taken of you. I've got a 9-year-old that's petrified of even going back to his grandmother's house," Ken Walker said.
Walker is right. Nichols says the police have had Yates's house under surveillance, and Nichols says officers have even posed as boarders.
"We have had some undercover work in the house and undercover agents go in and rent rooms there, so we have done some surveillance there, yes," Nichols says.