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Nearly 100 families living in a Charlotte motel will need to find a new place to stay.
The Southern Comfort Inn, off Interstate 85 in west Charlotte, is closing at the end of the month.
Last week, the owners sent a letter saying the motel is closing on June 30 because some people weren’t paying rent. The owners said they took losses to their personal savings.
“We would love more than anything to be able to forgive all of the room fees owed, provide food, hot meals, basic necessities for all of those we house and are in the surrounding community. However, that isn’t possible without assistance,” General Manager Traci Canterbury Jones said in the letter to Charlotte City Council. “We are at a complete loss and painfully realize that closing is the only option unless someone can make something happen quickly.”
The Southern Comfort Inn notified #CLTCC it is closing down, effective June 30. About 100 families live in this motel. Mayor Vi Lyles says the city will assist them in finding new housing pic.twitter.com/4IeqS1eml1
— Joe Bruno (@JoeBrunoWSOC9) May 31, 2022
Canterbury Jones said she thought her motel and the people who live here were turning a corner last year, when she received COVID relief funds from the city of Charlotte. The money was used to catch dozens of residents up on back rent and to also prepay rent for future months.
“I was praying it was a stepping stone for people, but it didn’t work out, unfortunately,” she said.
Jones told Channel 9 that times are still hard for her residents, and roughly only 30 families of the 100 or so that live in the complex are paying rent on time.
“Our bills are $45,000 to $55,000 a month and right now we are only bringing in $20,000,” she said. “The people that do pay on time, I can’t raise rents just because people aren’t paying.”
Jones said courts are backed up and the eviction process is too costly. She also says the motel is the only option for many of the people who live there. The motel frequently partnered with CMPD, nonprofits and churches to offer mental health services, food and after-school care.
“Affordable housing is insane,” she said. “I have people right now, they get $831 a month, there’s no affordable housing for people making that type of money.”
At the Southern Comfort Inn Wednesday afternoon, residents who spoke to Eyewitness News expressed shock and disbelief. Franklin Owens isn’t sure where he is going to go.
“I don’t know what I’ll do,” he said. “I...got nowhere to go.”
A mother of six, who didn’t want to be identified, told Eyewitness News she is worried about her and her family’s future.
“Right now we are decompressing everything we have, minimizing what we have,” she said. “We are throwing things away, toys, clothes, just to be able to put things on our back and leave.”
Former New York resident Vincent Stokes said he doesn’t have any family in the area and is praying it all works out.
“I’m nervous,” he said. “But something better always comes.”
Jones said she is not only losing her motel, but she is also losing her house. She lives on the property with her family. Staff live on-site as well.
“I don’t know where we are going to go from here, but I know God will lead us in the right direction,” she said.
At Tuesday night’s Charlotte City Council meeting, Mayor Vi Lyles said the city cannot ignore those people losing their living spaces. About 200 people live in the motel, including 51 children.
“We need to put all of our efforts around it,” Lyles said. “We need to make sure that we do as much as possible so that we don’t increase people that are homeless on our streets, especially our children.”
Lyles said the city will do its best to help resolve this issue for those tenants. After being asked twice Wednesday, a spokesperson for the city of Charlotte could not provide the plan for the Southern Comfort Inn residents.
(WATCH BELOW: ‘Thank you’: Veteran’s family moves from motel into home thanks to nonprofits)