After Executive Inn condemnation, agencies scrambling to provide services

At least 50 people could be without a home next Friday when the Executive Inn is officially closed, condemned by the city of Rock Hill for what officials said are conditions so poor the building was deemed “Unfit for Human Habitation.”

Many of these people live paycheck to paycheck, according to residents who spoke with The Herald on Thursday, just hours after receiving the news.

And with no notice of the evictions given to community agencies, groups are scrambling to develop plans to help the Executive Inn’s residents, many of whom said they have no where else to go.

“We’re trying to coordinate something,” said Lora Holliday, a member of the local Salvation Army’s executive board. “I’m disappointed they didn’t tell the shelter providers this was going to be coming up.”

Holliday, along with other shelter providers and community agencies including The Pilgrim’s Inn, Renew Our Community and Family Promise, didn’t learn about the Executive Inn condemnation until they read reports in the media or were contacted by The Herald.

An email was sent to shelters who are members of the Catawba Area Coalition for the Homeless around 5 p.m. Thursday. The city didn’t think it would be fair or legal to notify those agencies until the notice of violation and condemnation was served to the owner of the hotel, Punam Patel, said city spokeswoman Katie Quinn.

“I expect there will be a flood of folks,” said Bruce McKagan, executive director of Renew Our Community. “It’s going to be important that we’re ready for them.”

Renew Our Community and similar groups are seeking help from community members to support those from the Executive Inn who may need assistance after Friday.

“We’re going to need to team together,” McKagan said.

At this time of the year, need is already increasing, McKagan said. His organization sees about 100 clients each day. A few years ago, Renew Our Community would have 10 to 15 clients each day.

The Pilgrim’s Inn reported Thursday it has 21 applicants for every one available bed. The Family Promise shelter, which serves families, said it is also seeing an increased demand for beds, although the facility has a few openings.

“We’re doing the best we can to serve whoever needs those openings,” said executive director Jennifer Coye.

The Salvation Army is working with churches and shelters to figure out the best way to serve those who could be displaced, Holliday said. While many shelters are full, she said, the community has to do something to help these families.

The city has also been invited to participate in a meeting of faith-based groups and social service agencies next week, Quinn said.

Having these shelters and agencies step in may be extremely helpful to people who were living at the Executive Inn, McKagan said. “Yes, it’s going to be a strain, but what a great opportunity to get people where they can really get help,” he said.

While many people may have been living at the hotel just to get by, they now may be able to seek out programs and services to help get them on their feet and start a better life.

Coye, of Family Promise, said she hopes her organization, or other agencies, would be able to provide assistance.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to help somebody,” she said.

Anyone wishing to help those displaced by the Executive Inn’s condemnation should donate to a social service or community agency that assists with housing and other basic needs, agency leaders said.

It is Patel’s job to make sure all residents are out by next Friday, Quinn said. Failing to do so could be a violation of the International Property Maintenance Code.

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