Evicted families at Eatonville motel scramble to find new place to live

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EATONVILLE, Fla. —

An Eatonville motel is just about empty after its residents were evicted followed a second inspection that found the building is unsafe and must be condemned.

The mayor of Eatonville said Friday’s inspection confirmed that the motel conditions are too dangerous for anyone to live there.

The initial eviction deadline passed Friday morning. The residents were first told on Tuesday that the Hometown Suites was going to be condemned and that residents had 48 hours to move out.

On Thursday, inspectors said the conditions were very unsafe and cited problems with wiring, falling ceilings and mold at the rundown motel on Kennedy Boulevard.

Some of the residents had already left but a few of them were still lingering in the area as of Friday afternoon.

"There's a war against the poor, rather than a war against poverty," said community activist Rev. Dr. Evers Robinson.

Robinson was just one citizen speaking out on behalf of the families Thursday and the pressure convinced the police chief to extend the 4 p.m. Thursday eviction deadline.

The residents and hotel owners have insisted the property is not as bad as the city says it is.

“I got to have somewhere to go, and that's kind of messed up," said evicted resident John Lee Watson.

Some residents packed taxi cabs while others, who have lived here for years, had to get trucks to move their furniture.

“I understand the man might have failed his inspections but inside the apartments it was livable,” said resident Christine Cummings.

Cummings said she doesn’t have a lot of option on where to go.

“The hotels on Lee Road are so much more expensive than here,” she said.

One of the owners and former Mayor Anthony Grant believes political opponents fear he's going to run for the mayor's seat again.

"Political strategy is to hurt your opponent by any means necessary," Grant said.

Grant believes if the eviction was about safety concerns, it would have happened weeks ago when the inspection was done in early December.

The current mayor of Eatonville, Bruce Mount said he just wants the residents to be safe.

“My heart goes out to the residents, but this is about the health and safety of the residents. That's all it's about,” Mayor Mount said.