Monroe County still working to relocate homeless families that were placed at the Motel 6

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Kanisha Stewart is a single mother of three who has been living at the Motel 6 in Gates for a few weeks. This week, she was told she had to move out.

“They told me to just call the line and they’re going to place you somewhere else, there was no other placement,” says Stewart. “I was constantly told, ‘Oh don’t worry, we’re gonna call you back when we have something.’ Okay, so now I’m standing here with my three kids trying to figure out where to go and what’s next.”

Selena Vega and her one-year old daughter are in the same situation.

“I’m worried about making sure that my kid is housed, that I have a stable place for her to stay, so I can get a job, so I can make money, so I can do what I need to do. And I can’t do that if I’m trying to find someplace to stay every night,” she tells News10NBC.

News10NBC filed a Freedom of Information request for the inspection records related to the Motel 6.  Over the past few years, Monroe County has cited it for dozens of health violations ranging from dirty floors and rooms, to non-working smoke detectors, to roach problems.   

“Our rooms are not the greatest rooms, but in order to fix up these rooms, we need some of these rooms empty so that we can fix these rooms. But if you’re putting 60-70 families in here and then forgetting about them, I can’t do what I need to do to fix these rooms,” says Bisma Khan who owns the Motel 6. 

Khan says she was trying to ask the County to stop new emergency housing placements at her motel while her team did work on some of the rooms. Instead, the County stopped all placements and tells News10NBC its working to relocate all the people and families currently living at the Motel 6. 

“My Deputy Commissioner, last night, was on the phone until about 9-10 o’clock calling over a dozen hotels making individual placements,” says Thalia Wright, the Commissioner of the Monroe County Department of Human Services.

While this is a lot of families all at once, the job of finding placements is always an issue.

Jennifer Lewke, News10NBC “How many folks are currently receiving emergency housing assistance in Monroe County, how many providers do you have and are there enough?”

Thalia Wright “I would say on average we place 3,000 individuals a month in emergency housing right, and Jennifer there’s no surprise right? It’s not unique to Monroe County, NYS is suffering with a housing crisis.”

Hotels are normally the last option for placements of families who are facing homelessness. Wright says DHS does not have contracts with any of them, they just reach out when the shelters are full. 

Monroe County is looking to change that process. Deputy County Executive Jeff McCann says there are plans to build or remodel a facility locally for emergency housing.

“To actually have a facility that would be under direct county control and supervision, that would be administered by a not-for-profit that would really put us in a position where we would have direct control over a facility,” he says. 

While the county has filed an RFP for the project, it is still several months away from becoming a reality. 

In the meantime, DHS says it will find placements for the impacted families at the Motel 6 by the end of this week.