Former motel tenants upset over treatment
Claim management did not give enough notice of eviction
The Waldorf Motel is now closed, but many people who were utilizing the space were not there because they had a choice — they had to be.
Leroy Sandy, a former motel tenant, said because the space is now closed to the public and due to be bulldozed in the future, he and his loved ones are now homeless.
“We’re living in the woods now,” Sandy said.
Greenberg Gibbons, the company that purchased the Waldorf Station property at the tail end of 2016 from Chaney Enterprises, said they gave three months notice to the property owners that all tenants had to be out of the
building by Feb. 1. Ulti- mately, it was up to the property owners to com- municate that to the motel’s tenants.
Sandy said motel management did not.
“We only got seven days notice,” Sandy said. “We had a guy come to our door and give us seven days.”
There were no notices, Sandy said, until it was en- tirely too late. And for people who are struggling to make ends meet, that can be devastating, he said. In his case, it ended up cost- ing him the roof over his head.
Sheree Elliot, who was also a motel tenet, said she was in the same situation as Sandy, but managed to quickly find a place to stay before it was too late. She said she was not notified of any movement or closure until the Tuesday prior to the building’s closing.
“And that was after the sheriff came to the motel and told them what they were trying to do to gather information on it, and they would need to give us the information to the new own- ers of the motel,” she said.
At one point, Elliot said, they were attempting to put tenants out so con- tractors could begin doing work.
Sandy Washington, the executive director of LifeStyles of Maryland, said tenants were put out before an initial Feb. 1 deadline when the power was cut from the building. LifeStyles did a sweep of the building to ensure no one remained that needed help, she said.
“There wasn’t anyone left,” Washington said.
Leroy Sandy said man- agement was never up- front and honest with tenants, and “only wanted to get the last few dollars they could” from everyone staying there.
But Bobby Patel, the for- mer manager of the motel, said that was not the case. The motel management cared about the people they served, he said, so much so that they gave them a month’s notice that they had to move out and even provided some resi- dents with transportation and a new place to stay at different motels in the area.
“There’s not a story,” Patel said. “We gave them notice of one month and put it on the front desk for them to see every day ... We provided customers residency at different motels for weeks. All the cus- tomers from our property, they are happy now. We paid for a new motel and transportation, they are happy now.”
Patel said he had not received any phone calls from residents they ser ved describing any hardship. The motel helped at least 30 tenants relocate, he said, and did the best they could to help place those who needed assistance.
Everyone who was a paying tenant should have seen the notice, he said, because they must come into the motel’s front of- fice where the notification of the move was placed to pay for their stay. Whether it is a daily payment or a weekly payment, he said, anyone who paid should have seen it.
But Sandy, who said he worked at the motel from time to time when he could not afford to pay for his stay, said he never saw any sign or indication that tenants had to leave.
“There was just a lack of communication,” he said. “That’s why we have the tensions in the world that we do now, because people cannot communicate.”
No matter what, Clar- ence Arnold, one of the founders of the Arnold House, a foundation that seeks to help out the needy, said the Waldorf Motel closing down will likely be a strike for many people who are in need.
Arnold said he and his wife have helped many tenants of the Waldorf Motel and even help set up food kitchens in the area specifically for those tenants. Many of them cannot afford to pay for steady housing, he said, which makes this a difficult time for them.
“So many people are affected by this,” Arnold said. “It’s sad to see it happening.”
Sandy agreed, stating many people are going to feel the burden of having to find permanent housing. Some, he said, are already struggling like he is.
“Some motels won’t even accept certain people from the Waldorf Motel,” he said. “It’s just not right.”