Veterans

Homeless, 84-year-old war veteran twins say 'it's hell' after home foreclosed

Clifford and Gary Koekoek, 84-year-old twins who've survived living under Nazi occupation and fighting in the jungles of Vietnam, are now in "hell" and sleeping in their car after a bank foreclosed on their California home in October.

Born in the Netherlands, Clifford and Gary grew up under Nazi rule before coming to the U.S., where the brothers worked in Hollywood and then served their new country at war. But the brothers told FOX 40 Sacramento nothing they've lived through compares to their current predicament.

"It's a lot of stress," Clifford said, holding back tears. "I’d rather go back to the war and get shot at, than this crap.”

The Koekoek's recent housing plight started in 2007, when the brothers wanted to fix the roof on a Fair Oaks home they bought from their mother, and which had been in their family since 1984.

"We took a loan thinking that we had a conventional loan,” Gary said.

The loan, however, turned out to be an adjustable rate loan, with payments getting higher over time -- until the two couldn't afford it. After their home was foreclosed, the two were kicked out and began sleeping in one shared car.

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"Right now, I'm broke,” Clifford told FOX 40. "Sometimes, we don't eat."

The two now spend most of their time just walking the streets and sitting at the Sacramento Public Library in neighboring Orangevale. Gary said he spends most of his time looking over deed records to figure out how the twins can win their home back.

"I would almost say it's hell," Gary said.

A friend of the family is now trying to help, launching a social media push and a GoFundMe account to help find the two men permanent housing.

Aaron Hoerner told FOX 40 the experience has given 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,” he said.