LifeStyles, county scram­bling to help dis­placed mo­tel res­i­dents

Wal­dorf Mo­tel to be de­mol­ished af­ter re­cent pur­chase

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com

For years, the Wal­dorf Mo­tel has been both a tem­po­rary and longterm means for hous­ing cit­i­zens fight­ing poverty in Charles County. On many occa- sions, the mo­tel in the Wal­dorf Sta­tion sec­tor of town has been a means for af­ford­able, re­li­able shel­ter.

But af­ter to­day, Feb. 1, that will end with new prop­erty own­ers Green­berg Gib­bons ask­ing cit­i­zens to be off the premises so the com­pany can pre­pare for the de­mo­li­tion of the mo­tel and for­mer Rip’s Restau­rant to make way for the com­pany’s fu­ture de­vel­op­ment.

Michelle Schif­fer, the vice pres­i­dent and as­sis­tant di­rec- tor of as­set man­age­ment at Green­berg Gib­bons, said, upon pur­chas­ing the prop­erty from Chaney En­ter­prises at the end of last year, the com­pany pro­vided “all ten­ants 90 days no­tice that their leases would ex­pire on Fe­bru­ary 1.”

“Any re­moval of oc­cu­pants from the mo­tel is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of and is be­ing done by the mo­tel op­er­a­tor, not Green­berg Gib­bons,” she said.

Schif­fer did not spec­ify when de­mo­li­tion of the prop­erty would be­gin.

Sandy Washington, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of LifeStyles of Mary­land, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to help­ing peo­ple in need of hu­man ser­vices, said the com­pany is cur­rently deal­ing with 40 fam­i­lies who have reached out to LifeStyles to find dif­fer­ent means of shel­ter.

“We have a num­ber of other fam­i­lies we’re as- sess­ing needs for,” she said. “We’ve got to fig­ure out if they’re el­i­gi­ble for rental as­sis­tance.”

LifeStyles has been in con­tact with mo­tel man­age­ment, Wash­ing- ton said, and have been work­ing with other mo­tels in the area, in­clud­ing the Cadil­lac Mo­tel across the bor­der in Prince Ge­orge’s County, to try and find dif­fer­ent means of hous­ing resi- dents in need.

Ev­ery­one knew this would be “in­evitable,” Washington said, but that still does not make the sit­u­a­tion any less dire or dif­fi­cult to deal with.

“We’re taken aback a lit­tle. We knew this was go­ing to hap­pen at some point. But the other part of it is that we thought we would have some time to work with these fam­i­lies prior to now,” Washington said. “There are just a num­ber of chil- dren and fam­i­lies we’re work­ing with as well as in­di­vid­u­als. We’re mov- ing as quickly as we can.”

There is al­ready a short­age of af­ford­able hous­ing in the com­mu­nity for peo­ple to choose from, she said. But LifeStyles will con­tinue work­ing to put to­gether plans for the short range to keep peo­ple “some­what sta­ble” in their tran­si­tions, she said.

That in­cludes work­ing with the county gov­ern­ment, Washington not- ed. They have been in touch with the county’s Depart­ment of Com­mu­nity Ser­vices in an ef­fort to pro­vide fam­i­lies with more re­sources.

Hay­wood Evans, the di­rec­tor of com­mu­nity ser- vices for the county, said the county is con­cerned about the po­ten­tially dis­placed res­i­dents and their con­cerns “re­main in the fore­front” of county is­sues.

“We con­tinue to ad­dress these mat­ters by sup­ply­ing re­fer­rals to those im­pacted and co­or­di­nat­ing with one of our long­stand­ing com- mu­nity part­ners, LifeStyles Inc.,” Evans said.

County Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Peter Mur­phy (D) said as it gets closer to the time peo­ple are ex­pected to leave the prop­erty, “you start to hear more con­cerns.”

“Peo­ple haven’t been able to re­lo­cate,” Mur- phy said. “Some are still try­ing to do that. We’ve been able to find space to help at least three eli- gible fam­i­lies.”

Mur­phy said the county is still work­ing with LifeStyles to put peo­ple in con­tact with food pantries and help­ing them ap­ply for emer­gency as­sis­tance pro­grams, which helps take care of mort­gage fore­clo­sures and evic­tions.

The Charles County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers may look into bring- ing for­ward some sort of sup­port for res­i­dents as they make this tran­si­tion as well, Mur­phy said.

Washington said the more help in this sit­u­a­tion, the bet­ter the re­sults will be. For those who are still in need and search­ing for help, “the best thing is to con­tact us so we can know where they are,” she said.

“We can’t prom­ise hous­ing. Our Safe Nights is at ca­pac­ity ev­ery night. Our houses are full,” Washington said. “But what we’re try­ing to do is make ar­range­ments. There are re­sources. There are fed­eral dol­lars ... We want to be able to get these folks placed as quickly as pos­si­ble.”

Kirsten Mee­han, a county res­i­dent who lived in and out of the mo­tel in 2012, said she has mixed feel­ings about the mo­tel fall­ing out as a piece of the com­mu­nity. The build­ing has been around for decades, she said, and has pro­vided peo­ple in need with shel­ter. At the same time, the prop­erty has re­cently strug­gled with ten­ants par­tic­i­pat­ing in crime and drug use.

“It’s a back-and-forth feel­ing,” she said. “I don’t know. It kind of helps peo­ple who don’t have money like that.”

For­tu­nately, Mee­han said, she was able to get back on her feet fi­nan­cially and stay out of the mo­tel. But she has friends who have not been as for­tu­nate and were still de­pend­ing on it.

There are other mo­tels in the area, she said, but many face the same is­sues as the Wal­dorf Mo­tel and are not al­ways the safest places. But at the end of the day, Mee­han noted, “Peo­ple need some­where to stay.”

Washington said any­one who is still look­ing for op­tions should call 301-609-9900, ext. 213. If it’s in the evening, she said, ask for the on-call per­son.

“Let’s just pray we can get all of these folks placed,” she said.

STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL SYKES II

The Wal­dorf Mo­tel and Restau­rant sits empty in its last days as an es­tab­lish­ment on Thurs­day. Ten­ants must be out of the mo­tel by to­day, Feb. 1, per or­der of new prop­erty owner Green­berg Gib­bons.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.