Sunday, December 11, 2016

Roughly Three Dozen Low-Income Residents In Extended-Stay Motel Brace For Xmas Boot As Deteriorating Premises Falls To Foreclosure

In Pensacola, Florida, the Pensacola News Journal reports:
  • Call it a last stand. A small showing of defiance in the face of futility.

    Residents sat outside the front office of the newly foreclosed Hospitality Inn waiting for someone official to show up with their eviction notices. The motel's old management had already closed up shop and abandoned ship. They left behind a smattering of dusty office supplies, a washer and dryer set that was all but useless with the building's water shut off, and a phone number with a note that tenants could make their complaints to the bank that now owned the property.

    The roughly three dozen residents of the Hospitality Inn, an extended-stay motel off Mobile Highway, had been informed Friday the former owners, Jangir Inc., had lost the building to EH National Bank due to non-payment of the mortgage. Tenants had also been told they should be prepared to vacate the premises within 24 hours. Some 72 hours later, few residents had actually left. Largely, they had nowhere else to go.

    "We're just squatting until we get our notices," Mei Ling Mahurin explained with a mixture of humor, anger and resignation. "At least for the moment, we have electricity."

    Mahurin said none of the residents had known the foreclosure was coming, and that many had paid the next week's rent before they were told they were being kicked out. She said on average, residents were paying between $150-$250 a week in rent, and most residents had a fixed income or disability.

    "There's a lot of people who need help," Mahurin said. "We're all stuck ... it'd be different if (we were being evicted because) we didn't pay, but we pay our rent."
    ***
    [Bank attorney John] Fraiser said the bank plans to give Hospitality Inn residents 30 days to seek new housing. He also said the water at the inn was shut off because Jangir failed to make payments to the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority. He noted EH National was working to have the water turned back on.

    "We've been in the community a long time, and we don't want any tenants to be disenfranchised in this way," Fraiser said of his law firm. He said of EH National, "They certainly don't want to cause any more pain or damage than Jangir has already caused."

    A representative of Jangir Inc. could not be reached for comment Monday.

    Dale McGowan, 69, has been living at the Hospitality Inn for the past few months. The hotel had been in bad shape as long as he'd been there. In empty hallways, insulation and wooden beams were visible through holes in the ceiling. Trash littered hallways and boards covered the windows in one rear building. Passing an empty swimming pool, he noted the only time he'd seen water in it was "when it rains."

    McGowan's parents and siblings have already passed away. He doesn't have a car, and two heart attacks have made walking long distances difficult, if not impossible. He said he stayed indoors at night for fear of who might be outside.

    Still, "It's better than being on the street," he said.

    With no hotel staff to stop them, three children whooped and hollered as they ran through the complex. McGowan shook his head sadly as he listened to them play.

    "I feel sorry for the kids," he said. "They're happy, but they don't know where they're going to be next," he said.

    Legal Services of North Florida(1) is helping residents affected by the foreclosure understand their rights. The organization can be reached at 432-8222.
For more, see Residents await eviction at foreclosed motel.
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(1) Legal Services of North Florida (LSNF) is a private, not-for-profit law firm serving eligible low-income individuals and families in certain civil (as opposed to criminal) matters, including Family Law, Housing, Public Benefits, Employment, Education, and Health Care issues. LSNF serves the sixteen counties across the central and western panhandle of Florida. According to their website, LSNF never charges a fee to a client; however, clients may be responsible for court costs.

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