Scores Of Children Displaced By Motel Padlocking

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Scores Of Children Displaced By Motel Padlocking

CREATED Jul 9, 2014
by Mark Bellinger

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - They were the unintended victims of police padlocking a Nashville motel.

Scores of children lived at the Hallmark Inn in North Nashville. Despite efforts from Metro Government and several social agencies, some of these children are homeless.

Volunteers with the church found some of them on the street.

They stayed a night in a hotel courtesy of Metro Social Services, but it was only for one night. Metro Social Services Director Renee Pratt said the agency has limited funding.

Life Church, in Inglewood helped move several families, who suddenly found themselves homeless when Metro padlocked the Hallmark Inn Motel on Tuesday after it was declared a public nuisance due to a long record of criminal activity. From January 2010 to May 2014, police said they received 1,636 calls for response at the motel-- which they said is four times more calls to police than 10 other motels within a one-mile radius.

It's been more than 24-hours and at least two families still have nowhere to go. Janet Williamson was one of the many displaced when the motel was closed.

"Everybody that lived there had children, one or two maybe three or four everybody,” Williamson said.

Williamson has three children ages, five months, five years and three years.

Church volunteers picked them up after they saw them walking down the street Wednesday afternoon. They're homeless.

"We need some where to stay. That's my main concern. I have three kids. We have nowhere to go,” she said.

Jevon Jenkins said his mother worked at the motel. She lost her job, and Jenkins said she didn't get paid. Now, the 13-year-old said there is no place for her and his four brothers and sisters to stay.

"I don't think they should have shut it down if they didn't have a place for us to go,” said Jenkins.

Police said they were ready.

"Going into this we were aware that several children live here and so we prepared for that on the front end and called DCS in to assist with this,” said North Precinct Commander Terrence Graves during a press conference.

Several social workers were on site to assist. Life Church Pastor Dan Walker was also there.

Walker offered people drinks and hope, but he couldn't offer them a place to stay.

"I pray with them and I love them and then, I don't know what we do for them. Our best, they didn't train me for this in seminary, so,” said Walker.

Pastor Walker said he doesn't know what to do. Neither does Janet Williamson.

"We have nothing to do. No solution,” said Williamson.

Pastor Walker believes there are other families who are in the same position today. He said in some cases other motels don't want them because parents don't want to follow the rules or they have some type of addiction.

A spokeswoman for the Metro Police Department said the department did its part by reimbursing motel guests for registration fees they'd paid in advance to reserve rooms.

So most people did leave the motel with a little money - to try and start over.

A spokeswoman with Sophia's Heart, which is a homeless shelter for families, said parents can apply for a room there. She said there are only three homeless shelters in Nashville that accept families and they're usually full.

Email: mbellinger@newschannel5.com

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