Several dozen residents of the Budgetel showed up in front of City Hall Tuesday evening saying that they had received word from Hamilton County Schools officials that the extended stay motel would be shut down on Wednesday, putting them out on the street.
“I’m 30 weeks pregnant and I have nowhere to stay,” said Ruby Williamson, one of the residents protesting. “Basically, there are good people down there. People help each other out.”
Shouts of “save Budgetel” rang out from the protesters, many of whom said it was patently unfair to evict anyone on one day’s notice.
It is believed that Hamilton County District Attorney Coty Wamp intends to file a temporary injunction/restraining order under the state’s pubic nuisance laws to stop the extended stay facility on N. Mack Smith Road from operating. East Ridge News Online could not confirm that court documents had been filed with the court on Tuesday.
East Ridge City officials had no official comment on those protesting in front of City Hall on the night Municipal Court was being held.
The protestors believed they are being treated unfairly. The Budgetel has a reputation as being a haven for criminal activity, and in particular a haven for drug dealing. Many of the demonstrators said the residents in the complex, which may house as many as 500 people, believe they are being stereotyped.
While demonstrating in front of City Hall, one man found a syringe in the bushes outside of the main entrance. “What they gonna do now, shut down City Hall?”
Edith Taylor-Bankston said she was distraught over the prospect of being tossed out on the street with no place to go.
“How do they expect people to survive on the streets,” said Edith, who has a myriad of health problems. “I’m 65-years-old and I don’t need this stress.”
John, who along with his wife and two children, said his family is staying at the Budgetel until he can get on his feet. John said he had been a resident of East Ridge for 35 years.
“I’ve fallen on hard times,” said John, who works for a basement water-proofing company. “(The Budgetel) is a blessing. Where else can you stay somewhere for $300 a week with everything included?”
Amanda Hixson said she was “pissed.”
“I’m pissed off for the elderly people and the children,” she said. “They can’t drop everything and just go.
“Kids are asking, ‘momma, are we getting kicked out?’ Kids shouldn’t have to worry about about that kind of thing.”
A woman who gave her name as Shandi, said a maintenance worker knocked on her door and told her that everyone would have to be out by 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
“I’m not leaving,” the woman said.
If the residents of the Budgetel are evicted, it will not be the first time. In September of 2015, the City of East Ridge condemned the property then being operated as Superior Creek Lodge under a “life safety” ordinance. At that time, more than 700 residents were turned out of the complex of buildings at dusk.
East Ridge News Online will follow this story and provide more information as it becomes available.