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Extended-stay hotel in Charlotte closes, displacing residents

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Lars Lonnroth
/
WFAE
The Southern Comfort Inn announced last month that it is closing its door on June 30. Residents say that the motel had issues with roaches, bed bugs and broken AC units.

Residents of the Southern Comfort Inn were working to move out Thursday afternoon after the extended-stay motel notified the city last month that it was closing its doors.

The hotel housed around 150 to 200 people, according to city officials, which helped keep many people out of homelessness.

When the motel’s manager let the city know about the plan to close, Mayor Vi Lyles told the city council that she wanted to do something to help keep these residents housed

“We are struggling in this community,” Lyles said. “But we need to put all of our efforts around it. We need to make sure we do as much as possible so we don’t increase the people that are homeless on our streets — especially children.”

But the motel moved forward with closing anyway. People were actively working to move out Thursday afternoon. Leonard Kennedy says he had lived at the motel for ten years and was glad it was closing.

“They’re closing the place, which is a damn good thing,” Kennedy said. “Bed bugs, roaches. One person reported rats. If you don’t have to be here, you don’t want to be here.”

Charlotte Spokesperson Greg Watkins said that the city had committed “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to households displaced by the Southern Comfort Inn closing.

There have also been case managers at the motel to help get residents connected to services offered by Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and community agencies, Watkins said.

One of the community agencies, United Way, had helped people living at the Southern Comfort Inn find new housing. Every individual who worked with United Way found other housing, except for one person who had a criminal record, Watkins said.

The Southern Comfort Inn was the subject of multiple complaints about living conditions. The motel’s management said that not enough residents were paying rent, so they didn’t have the money to make necessary repairs.

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Lars Lonnroth is a journalism and political science student at Mercer University in Georgia. He's interning at WFAE.