The city is asking the state not to house homeless people at the Holiday Inn, given the crime problems it has had this summer.
The board, at its meeting on Monday, voted unanimously to send a letter to Sean Brown, commissioner of the Department of Children and Families (DCF), outlining his many reasons for not wanting that the Holiday Inn be involved in the state motel voucher program in the future. .
Due to the pandemic, the state had given vouchers to homeless people, allowing them to stay in hotels and motels. In July, several hundred people stopped receiving vouchers when the eligibility criteria changed. Over the next several months, the program was extended several times as lawyers, lawmakers and the administration debated how to approach the issue.
Similar issues were raised at the Quality Inn, which is in town. The two establishments are owned by the same people.
City Police Chief Ed Dumas said on Wednesday he was not sure how many people at the Holiday Inn were using the voucher program, nor the state’s plans for the future.
Pam Dalley, who handles media inquiries at the DCF commissioner’s office, said in an email on Wednesday that the office had yet to receive the letter from the city and no one was available to discuss the matter. for the moment.
“This expresses the Select Board’s desire that the Holiday Inn not be used to house the homeless, citing all the hardships we have had, our health worker investigations, the gas leak problem. last year and the explosion, and the traffic accidents resulting from some of these people, ”Select board chair Mary Ashcroft said on Monday.
Selectwoman Sharon Russell, who is also executive director of Open Door Mission, a homeless shelter and soup kitchen, said homeless people should not be at this hotel, for their own sake.
“I can tell you one thing, I take care of the homeless on a daily basis and my homeless people say, if the mission is full, we will sleep outside, we don’t want to be there,” she said. declared. “If the homeless themselves, the real homeless, are afraid to be in this hotel, that rings a bell.”
Dumas told the meeting that the hotel is performing poorly as a homeless shelter.
The letter from the city is long and lists a host of issues the city has had with the Holiday Inn, some predating the pandemic and the voucher program.
“In 2020, the police department saw a substantial increase in calls in this area of the city after the Holiday Inn was used as a place to stay for the homeless population. We have received complaints of criminal trespassing, overdoses of illegal drug trafficking / illegal drug use, overdose deaths, sometimes hourly retail thefts, fights, assaults, unrest and pedestrians struck by vehicles on US Highway 7, ”the city’s statement read. letter to DCF.
Several of the incidents mentioned by the city were covered by local media.
“We also found that the Holiday Inn did not have the capacity to supervise and maintain order of the people staying, lacked proper maintenance and that garbage bags were left in the hallway leading to problems with cleanliness, ”reads the letter. “Our police department has spent a considerable amount of time at Green Mountain Plaza and the Holiday Inn, which has kept officers away from the rest of the town of Rutland and taxpayers who have asked for their attention on other issues.”
The letter also recounts issues the city has had with the Holiday Inn over fire alarms and building code issues.
“In 2019, the Rutland Town Fire Department was sent to the Holiday Inn for a smell of gas and because of this incident the lives of 4 firefighters were endangered by a gas explosion,” reads -on in the letter. “Further investigation into this incident was conducted by the Town of Rutland health official, who revealed a lack of proper procedures on the part of the Holiday Inn’s general manager.”
The city ordered the hotel to close for some time after the explosion.
The incident also led city police to subpoena Udayan Dholakia, 52, of Mendon, to appear in Rutland Criminal Court on August 30, 2021, on a charge of reckless endangerment.
Rutland’s lawyer Frank Urso, who represents Dholakia, told the Herald in August that the quote was ridiculous and that his client had not contacted the fire department because others had already done so.
“The City is asking the (Department of Children and Families) to reconsider that the Holiday Inn is home to one of the homeless for the remainder of 2021 and through 2022 based on all of the factors mentioned,” concludes the letter. “If the Department continues to house people at the Holiday Inn, it will do so with full knowledge of the dangers to which those people will be exposed if they are at the Holiday Inn.” “