Authorities finding many homeless using extended stay motels - KCTV5

Authorities finding many homeless using extended stay motels

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A number of people staying at a Liberty motel that went up in flames early Wednesday morning had been living there for a period of time - something police say is more common than normally realized.

When someone falls on hard times in Kansas City there isn't always space available at shelters like the City Union Mission, and that can put families in need in a very bad situation.

"This has been going on for decades," said Officer Jason Cooley with the Kansas City, MO, Police Department.

Cooley sees what can happen at extended stay motels first-hand.

"Could be a disturbance call, more than likely that's the case but it's also in some instances a breeding ground for drugs and prostitution," he said.

"Counties have used extended stay motels to place families that they don't have a permanent place for," said Executive Director of the Homeless Services Coalition of Greater Kansas City Vicki Riddle.

She said there are 3,000 homeless adults in Jackson County alone and 7,500 homeless children. Riddle said some parents are terrified to get help from an agency, so they head straight to an extended stay situation.

"People with children are terrified about their children being taken away from them so, in some cases, they go to the extended stay motel because they don't want to work with an agency," she said.

Investigators said a lot of the places homeless families choose to stay at are shady at best. Many of them run below board and without regard to the law. That's why they said they are being shown more frequently on the news with some being shut down for non-compliance, something police said is overdue.

"Quite honestly, from the police standpoint and for the sake of the surrounding neighborhoods and communities, it looks like we're looking to address that," Cooley said.

One of the ways the conditions of extended stay motels are being addressed, Cooley said, is through the health department. He said they are working on a lodging ordinance that might give them a little more control.

Click here to read about the Liberty motel fire that displaced 50 people.

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