For more than two years, city inspectors have documented unsafe and squalid conditions at a weekly hotel near uptown that houses low-income families with children, the disabled and others with nowhere else to go.
Inspectors found rooms with no heat or air conditioning, piles of garbage, bedbugs and broken windows among other problems at the Airport Parkway Inn and Suites. Former tenants and a neighboring business complain the building on Wilkinson Boulevard is a magnet for drugs and crime.
Now, Charlotte officials are taking steps that could lead to the demolition of the hotel, a rare move the city has not taken in at least seven years against a lodging establishment.
The building is part of a virtually unnoticed housing sector in Charlotte, where hundreds of people suffering from addiction and mental illness or simply with few other options depend on weekly hotel rooms for permanent shelter.
While tenants avoid sleeping on the streets, they often stay in decrepit and vermin-infested buildings across the city because they cant scrape together enough cash for a deposit, utilities and other expenses to move into an apartment.
Advocates for the poor say the businesses can thrive financially because Charlotte doesnt have enough affordable housing, homeless shelters are almost always full and some hotel owners are not held accountable for substandard conditions.
The Airport Parkway has been cited for more than 20 violations since the beginning of 2015, but authorities did not appear to escalate action against the hotel until a county commissioner complained in July. The latest violation came Wednesday, when city officials cited the hotel for trash and debris on the property.
Interviews with former and current tenants at the Airport Parkway Inn and Suites found that they paid as much as $1,000 a month in some cases nearly all their monthly income for a building where inspectors have found faulty plumbing, inoperable smoke detectors and blocked exits.
The hotel operator has promoted the Airport Parkway online as therapeutic housing for the homeless and people recovering from drug addiction. She once promised a safe, drug free, and stable living environment.
But in December, a 65-year-old man wasnt discovered for three days after he died in his room near a suspected crack pipe, according to a state medical examiners report. He died from cocaine toxicity and the use of oxycodone and diazepam, an anti-anxiety drug, the report says.
One former tenant said she relapsed while living in the hotel earlier this year because drug dealers operated inside the hotel, sometimes going door-to-door.
These people were desperate and they were exploited, said Trasha Black, clinical director for Genesis Project 1, a nonprofit that is working to move former hotel tenants into apartments. It was horrific. I have no idea why this place was allowed to operate.
Commissioner Pat Cotham said she complained after visiting the hotel earlier this year and meeting with a tenant who said she suffered from bedbug bites. Cotham said she cant understand how inspectors could have seen the hotel conditions and not moved to impose stiff sanctions sooner.
That part is dumbfounding to me, Cotham said. It is a failure. A lot of people knew about this but didnt speak up. Why did you wait?
Piles of trash sit at the end of a hallway on the third floor of the Airport Parkway Inn and Suites. For more than two years, city inspectors have documented unsafe and squalid conditions at a weekly hotel near uptown that houses low-income families with children, the disabled and others with nowhere else to go.
Alex Kormann firstname.lastname@example.org
In the coming days, code enforcement inspectors will look throughout the three-story building for possible sanitary and safety violations under the citys minimum housing standards ordinance. Officials will decide whether to order repairs, take the property owner to court or recommend that City Council order the structure demolished.
Code Enforcement Division Manager Ben Krise said city rules prevented his office from taking aggressive steps before now.
For example, Krise said, inspectors received complaints only about individual rooms. The conditions in the common areas and the exterior of the building did not warrant additional actions, he said.
Cothams complaint encompassed the entire property, which Krise said allowed the city to go through every room.
In the past, when inspectors cited violations in individual rooms, Krise said, the Airport Parkway has fixed the problems.
But on recent visits by reporters, roaches crawled on the front-desk counter and lobby floor. Insects hovered around trash piled at end of the second floor. A bathtub in a vacant room held a dead bird.
City records show four code enforcement complaints against the property from 2016 and 2017 remain unresolved, including one for dilapidated condition of premises.
Asked why the city has not shuttered the hotel for repeated violations, Krise said I cant shut down anything. City code doesnt allow it.
Under current rules, he said, code enforcement inspectors have the authority to fine repeat offenders $50 for health and sanitation violations. The office also can hire private contractors for services such as garbage removal or grass cutting and seek repayment from the property owner. In at least two cases in 2016, records say the city hired contractors to cut grass or clean up the building.
The documents do not say how much the city paid or whether the hotel reimbursed the city for the costs.
Krise said officials are considering a proposal that would stiffen fines for repeat and chronic offenders. Inspectors would be able to impose fines of $150, $250 and $500, he said.
Delores Jordan, who operates the Airport Parkway, said her business operates like any other motel where customers can rent rooms.
She said she and her staff are doing their best with a difficult population.
Jordan acknowledged the building has bedbugs and roaches, but said that she has hired an exterminator and provides bug killer to tenants. Some tenants, she said, bring bedbugs or other insects to the hotel when they move from homeless shelters or the streets.
Jordan leases the building from the owner and she said that he was responsible for some problems, such as faulty plumbing. The building owner, Sammy Cheema, disputed that account. Cheema said he and Jordan had reached an agreement to pay for repairs and renovations.
Mecklenburg Countys Health Department regulates hotels and hotels and has the power to close establishments that pose a risk to public health.
But the Health Department does not consider Airport Parkway a lodging facility.
The county did not make officials available for interviews to explain their position.
In a written statement, the county did not say how the Health Department categorizes the property. It said it does not have authority to inspect the building and has referred complaints to the city.
Cotham said the Health Department defines the property as transitional housing, where customers pay to sleep in rooms for weeks or even years longer than a traditional hotel stay.
The Health Department regulates swimming pools and an inspector looked into a complaint about the one at Airport Parkway. A worker secured an unlatched gate with two zip ties to prevent anyone going into the pool, which had no operating permit and contained only about 12 inches of water.
County authorities said they later cited the property owner for failing keep a gate entrance to the swimming pools secured when the zip ties were found missing during a follow-up visit.
The Airport Parkway has been cited for more than 20 violations since the beginning of 2015, but authorities did not appear to escalate action against the hotel until County Commissioner Pat Cotham complained in July. Here, Cotham sprays bug spray on the bed of a tenant in an effort to combat the bed bug infestation.
Alex Kormann email@example.com
Social workers from Genesis Project 1 began counseling tenants earlier this year and helped relocate more than a dozen families and individuals. Black, clinical director for the agency, said her agency complained to hotel management but was unsatisfied with the response.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have filed 50 reports of crimes at the Airport Parkway since the beginning of 2015, a number police said was more than typical, but not among the highest totals in the city. Reports included drug offenses and assaults.
People cant stay clean in that environment, Black said. There is too much crime and too many drugs.
Faith Jones, 59, lived in the hotel from February to July. Jones said was she was homeless and recovering from a hip replacement when her daughter rented her a room.
She said she was attending substance abuse treatment and each morning had to walk past a room where a tenant sold drugs. Sometimes, she said, dozens of roaches would cover the walls and floors.
Roaches out of this world, Jones said. There would be 60 or 70. I would get overcome with disgust. I would sit on the edge of my bed and cry.
She shared a room with her daughter, Toni Moore, 42, who also attends drug treatment. Moore said she relapsed and bought narcotics in the hotel.
Both have moved to another hotel with the assistance of Genesis Project 1 and plan to eventually relocate to an apartment.
The Airport Parkway Inn and Suites has been cited for more than 20 violations since the beginning of 2015, but authorities did not appear to escalate action against the hotel until a county commissioner complained in July.
Alex Kormann firstname.lastname@example.org
Jordan, the Airport Parkway operator, said that without the building, the people who live in 20 rooms would have nowhere to go. The building has 40 other rooms, but Jordan said plumbing problems prevent her from renting those rooms.
Average rent in Charlotte for an apartment is about $1,100 a month, more than some who stay in the Airport Parkway make in monthly income.
The federal government says renters typically should put no more than 30 percent of their income toward housing. Higher costs can leave people without enough money for food, medicine, transportation and other basic needs.
It sounds like everybody needs a scapegoat, Jordan said. I dont know why you are questioning me. You cant have five-star conditions when you dont pay five-star prices.
A city report says Charlotte needs about 34,000 affordable housing units to meet the need, more than double a decade ago. At the same time, rent prices are rising faster than wages, according to federal estimates.
Advocates for the poor say that means more people must rely on homeless shelters and weekly hotels.
A Childs Place, a nonprofit that serves homeless school children and their caretakers, says nearly a third of its 800 families stay in hotels, where rooms costs $200 a week and up.
The costs are often high and this expense takes away from a family trying to save enough money for a security deposit on a more stable housing situation, said Art Gallagher, former interim executive director.
In July, a woman stood in her second-floor room at the Airport Parkway and held out her arms to show visitors what she believed were bedbug bites.
The woman, who asked that her name not be published because she feared retribution from the hotel management, said she had moved to the hotel because the room cost $800 a month. Another hotel where she said she previously stayed cost $1,400 a month almost as much as she receives in monthly Social Security disability benefits.
On a day when temperatures reached into the 90s, the rooms air conditioning unit did not appear to be working.
The woman looked around the room and choked back tears. If I would have known my life would turn out like this, I would have killed myself, she said.
Interviews with former and current tenants at the Airport Parkway Inn and Suites found that they paid as much as $1,000 a month in some cases nearly all their monthly income for a building where inspectors have found had faulty plumbing, inoperable smoke detectors and blocked exits
Alex Kormann email@example.com
Alex Kormann and Maria David contributed to this report.
- How Much Does Cockroach Extermination Cost? | Angie's List - May 21st, 2019
- Cockroach control - Western Exterminator - May 21st, 2019
- Pest Control Columbia SC | Cayce Exterminating Company - May 20th, 2019
- Cockroach Pest Control & Extermination: Arrow Exterminators - May 4th, 2019
- How to Get Rid of Roaches without an Exterminator - April 19th, 2019
- Exterminator sprayed for roaches, how long till they die ... - April 1st, 2019
- When to call an exterminator for cockroaches? (Detailed ... - February 27th, 2019
- Exterminator Ossining NY & Westchester County Pest Control ... - February 26th, 2019
- Cockroach Control - Get Rid of Roaches - February 20th, 2019
- How to Get Rid of German Roaches Without an Exterminator - February 20th, 2019
- How To Get Rid Of Roaches Without An Exterminator 7 Home ... - February 4th, 2019
- Bed Bug Treatment Tips from a Professional Exterminator - February 2nd, 2019
- Phoenix AZ Exterminator, Pest Control & Termite Inspector - February 1st, 2019
- What Kills Cockroaches Instantly: 4 Things to Kill ... - January 25th, 2019
- Roach Exterminator NJ | Pest Control New Jersey - December 12th, 2018
- 2018 Average Cockroach Extermination Costs: How Much Does ... - November 21st, 2018
- Cost to Hire a Roach Exterminator - Estimates and Prices ... - November 15th, 2018
- Exterminator How to Get Rid of Roaches - October 2nd, 2018
- Cockroaches Control Without Exterminator - pestwiki.com - September 5th, 2018
- Cockroaches - Roach Killer, Roach Control & Extermination ... - May 26th, 2018
- My Pest Control Aurora CO - Bed Bug Exterminator Denver CO - February 14th, 2018
- How Much Does Cockroach Extermination Cost? - Networx - February 4th, 2018
- Roaches | Pest Control Company in Tampa - February 1st, 2018
- Cockroach Control - Get Rid of Roaches - Orkin.com - January 21st, 2018
- How To Get Rid of Roaches | Kill Roaches - October 17th, 2017
- Baby Roaches (Pictures): 9 Simple Ways to Get Rid of It ... - September 25th, 2017
- How to get rid of roaches - Fast and Forever ... - Stop Pest! - September 20th, 2017
- Roaches, dead and alive, shut down 4 Miami area restaurants and get 14 others cited - Miami Herald - August 28th, 2017
- Roaches cause temporary mail suspension - WGRZ-TV - August 19th, 2017
- Readers' Vent: Aug. 17, 2017 - Charleston Gazette-Mail (subscription) - August 18th, 2017
- The difference between fearing, hating bugs - Maryville Daily Forum - August 9th, 2017
- News Center 7 investigation uncovers history of insects at Dayton restaurant - Dayton Daily News - August 5th, 2017
- Here are some pest tips - Valencia County News Bulletin - August 4th, 2017
- Jaxon Social to remain closed after more live roaches found - ActionNewsJax.com - July 31st, 2017
- Residents Question Conditions in Apartments Across Hartford | NBC ... - NBC Connecticut - July 12th, 2017
- Roaches, rodent droppings close area restaurants - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather - wflx - July 3rd, 2017
- Every surface I look at I see bugs: Man's BMW infested with cockroaches after parking at airport - fox6now.com - July 2nd, 2017
- Falmouth restaurant ordered shut down because of cockroach infestation - Cape Cod Times (subscription) - June 29th, 2017
- Roaches crash 40-year high school class reunion in DC - W*USA 9 - June 29th, 2017
- Man Shocked To Find Cockroach Infestation In His BMW - WLWT Cincinnati - June 29th, 2017
- Area Chinese and Mexican restaurants among 30+ in Florida forced to close after health inspections - WPTV.com - June 28th, 2017
- Restaurant inspections June 26, 2017 - The Herald-Times (subscription) - June 26th, 2017
- Aurora Pest Control Pros Expand Their Service Area - Digital Journal - June 21st, 2017
- Live roach found again at Cobb eatery still passes health check - Atlanta Journal Constitution - June 15th, 2017
- HUD officials: Essex Village improvements underway - Richmond Free Press - June 9th, 2017
- Roach crawls out during interview with owner who denies insects ... - Digital Journal - June 6th, 2017
- 2 Stocks and 1 Sector We're Watching in the Second Quarter ... - Madison.com - June 6th, 2017
- In nature, cockroaches don't die belly up | TODAYonline - TODAYonline - May 30th, 2017
- PEST CONTROL KINGS IN PHILADELPHIA - Press Release ... - Digital Journal - May 26th, 2017
- Cost Effective Pest Control Program for Homes in Seattle Launched - MENAFN.COM - May 23rd, 2017
- Veteran covered in scabs, says apartment overrun with mites but property managers won't help - FOX31 Denver - May 23rd, 2017
- What's next? Having cleared out 886 abandoned houses, South Bend must decide what to do with hundreds of vacant ... - Vincennes Sun Commercial - May 19th, 2017
- Signs that your home needs a Pest Control - Punjab News Express - May 18th, 2017
- The Cost to Seattle Commercial Businesses Attacked By Cockroaches. - MENAFN.COM - May 17th, 2017
- Having cleared out abandoned homes, South Bend must decide what's next - South Bend Tribune - May 15th, 2017
- NEW: Palm Beach Skate Zone cafe, Delray bagel shop cited for roaches - MyPalmBeachPost - May 10th, 2017
- DC Sues a Florida-Based Landlord for Neglecting a Columbia Heights Building - Washington City Paper - May 4th, 2017
- ROACHES - Bengal - May 1st, 2017
- Local renters allege wrongdoing, harassment - Manchestertimes - April 30th, 2017
- The Best Roach Killer In 2017 How To Kill Roaches In ... - April 27th, 2017
- FAGERLUND: Need help to stop 'bugging'? - Rio Rancho Observer - April 23rd, 2017
- Four Seasons, two other restaurants cited for live roaches - Palm Beach Daily News - April 21st, 2017
- Here's why your PS4 is a good roach motel - GameZone - April 19th, 2017
- Inspectors cite Four Seasons, Burger King, Lola's Seafood for roaches - Palm Beach Post (blog) - April 19th, 2017
- Four Seasons, Burger King, Lola's cited for live roaches - Palm Beach Post - April 18th, 2017
- 3 Ways to Kill German Roaches - wikiHow - April 12th, 2017
- 2 Bay County restaurants closed because of roach activity - Walton Sun - April 7th, 2017
- UVA residents complain about pest, mold problems, despite recent renovations - University Press - March 31st, 2017
- Keep the critters out: How to bug-proof your home - Shreveport Times - Shreveport Times - March 31st, 2017
- Seattle Pest control explains their extermination costs to commercial ... - Digital Journal - March 30th, 2017
- Lakeland Pest Control & Exterminator | (863) 279-0272 - March 29th, 2017
- Accidental therapists: For insect detectives, the trickiest cases involve the bugs that aren't really there - STAT - March 22nd, 2017
- 7 Things Every Homeowner Should Do Once a Year - Huffington Post - March 22nd, 2017
- Dead Roach Found In Food At Jerk Restaurant Horrifies Diner - DNAinfo - March 21st, 2017
- 'Superstore' Express Lane: The 6 Best Jokes in Season 2, Episode 16 - Hidden Remote - March 16th, 2017
- Cliques Bar and Grill Update- What Happened After Bar Rescue - Gazette Review - March 8th, 2017
- Improve Your Home With Pest Control and Exterminator in Oklahoma City and Edmond OK - Satellite PR News (press release) - March 7th, 2017
- Elderly displaced after severe roach, bedbug infestation - KENS5.com - March 6th, 2017
- Woman charged after cat feces, dead rodents, emaciated cat found ... - FOX 29 - March 6th, 2017
- How to Keep Pests Out of Your Self-Storage Facility - Inside Self-Storage (blog) - March 3rd, 2017