Carrie Fitzgerald conceded Wednesday that the KC Travel Inn was not idyllic, but for about $175 a week, she thought it was a decent place to call home.
Fitzgerald and other residents spent Wednesday morning gathering their belongings and looking for a new home after city health inspectors ordered the 100-room motel at 6006 E. 31st St. closed as a public health nuisance.
Inspectors found an array of unsanitary conditions, including cockroaches, bedbugs, rodent droppings, soiled mattresses, exposed electrical wiring and extensive mold.
Several rooms did not have working smoke detectors, said Bert Malone, a manager for the Kansas City Health Department.
“It is not our purpose to put people out of business but it is to protect the health of the patrons that use that facility and are paying for the privilege of staying there,” Malone said.
Fitzgerald, who has lived at the motel for about five months, said she had no place to go.
“I will have to go to a park because all of the shelters are full,” Fitzgerald said. “I just paid my last month’s rent and I had to borrow that.”
The motel’s owner, Narendra Sharma, said he didn’t have money to pay refunds. He said he has corrected a number of the problems and needed more time.
“I don’t understand it, why are they singling me out?” Sharma said. “I beg them to give the people seven days to move.”
Malone said that the city tried to work with the motel owner to correct the problems but that many of the conditions never improved. He said in one instance, inspectors found that motel workers painted over mold.
The motel also has been a problem spot for police. There have been two homicides there this year.
On March 5, David Turner, 50, was found fatally beaten in a hallway. Authorities charged Natasha R. Fowler, 26, and Zachary S. Showengerdt, 40, with second-degree murder. Three months later, motel clerk Kassandra Peters was shot to death during an apparent botched robbery. Dayqwaun M. Sykes of Kansas City was charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the June 10 slaying.
Malone said about 36 rooms of the 100 rooms were occupied this week. The lowest level, where inspectors found mold, was vacant.
Sharma will have to correct the problems and reapply for a new state permit if he wants to reopen.
One resident, Danny Candiano, said he moved to the motel from Hyde Park about three months ago. He said the motel was affordable and the management was easy to work with.
On Wednesday, Candiano said he hoped to find a room at a senior living facility.
“I haven’t been homeless, and I hope that doesn’t happen,” he said.