A West Valley City neighborhood has rallied around a 65-year-old man whose tiny ramshackle house was condemned by health and building safety departments Tuesday. Concerned neighbors persuaded officials not to bulldoze John F. Jones' property and pledged to assist in the renovation of the building.

More than 200 volunteers rushed to clean up and throw away accumulated debris from around the messy half-acre lot last week when inspectors first deemed it unsanitary and unsafe."John really is a good-hearted person. He is a human being and

he is entitled to the same rights as other human beings," neighbor Lee Giles said. "Our neighborhood has cleaned up yards before, but it has never been like this."

Jones locked himself out of his house Monday night. Hoping the West Valley Fire Department would help him break down the door, he called for help, he said.

Instead of jarring the door open, a brigade of fire engines, police cars and state officials arrived to condemn the house Jones has lived in for 62 years.

The condemnation initially angered Jones and disturbed neighbors in the peaceful rural neighborhood. However, most are pretty happy Jones will be cleaning up his property.

"Now I am sleeping in a tent. I can't sleep in my own home. They have made me homeless, how about that? I can't even use my own bathroom," he said. "I figure it is filthy, but it is my home."

Giles and his wife, Lorraine, said Jones' house was an eyesore, but officials treated the case poorly.

"It definitely needed to be condemned. It's just they did it in the wrong way," Lorraine Giles said. "He lives in filth, but he doesn't need to get thrown out on the street like that."

Danielle Benson, West Valley City housing and grants administrator, said the house was condemned for health and safety reasons.

"The house is structurally unsafe, there isn't adequate plumbing or heating, either," she said. "He has a woodburning stove in there and he used to soak logs in gasoline and douse them with oil when they were burning. How he hasn't blown up the neighborhood, I don't know."

Benson said health officials found in Jones' home - which he shared with sheep, goats, chickens, dogs and pigeons - nests of mosquito larvae, cobwebs, rodents and spoiled food.

The city will use money from a Community Development Block Grant to rewire the house, install room heaters and plumbing for hot and cold water and fix the sagging floors and roof, Benson said.

"So many people came to help. I didn't know I had that many friends. They just came out of the woodwork," Jones said. "Without my friends I don't know what would have happened to me."

Although it might be easier to bulldoze the property and start over, Benson said the city will only upgrade the existing house.

Jones, who survives on a monthly $580 social security check, said he was upset for a few days, but is looking forward to upgrading his house.

"I think it will be better, but I miss my animals," he said. Until the construction is complete, Jones said he will stay in a tent.