Place to Call Home: Update

Seeking Shelter After Eviction

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Previously, qnotes reported on a group of black transgender women at the center of the closure and eviction of residents at the Days Inn on Woodlawn Rd. in South Charlotte.

During the week of May 18, a Superior Court judge said that official residents of the hotel could stay for now. Judge Casey Viser included the names of occupants in 13 rooms, but did not protect anyone else who may be staying on the property. According to Rene Couret from There’s Still Hope, Myka T. Johnson and the other transgender women at the hotel were part of that list.

OMS Ventures of Charlotte who owns the hotel had tried to shut down the Days Inn on April 20, saying the staff were concerned that some residents had COVID-19. The company sought a court order to remove those who refused to leave, claiming that they had done more than $20,000 in damage.

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William DeVore, the lawyer for OMS Ventures, told WFAE that the owner planned to begin removing trespassers immediately. According to the report, the judge did not issue a final ruling on the request to evict all the occupants. He issued a continuence of the hearing until June 9.

Hours after Judge Viser’s order, problems were found with the hotel’s fire alarm system and the Charlotte Fire Department’s office declared it unsafe. On May 21, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) was called to the hotel to remove people who refused to leave.

According to a press release from CMPD, “Over the past three days, attempts were made to get the individuals occupying this hotel to voluntarily leave the property in compliance with the Order to Evacuate. Alternative housing was offered to individuals staying on the property, several of whom accepted.”

Community members and residents gathered at the gas station next door. Kristie Pucket-Williams, who works with ACLU of North Carolina, posted hours of live video on her personal Facebook page.

While talking with members of CMPD, Pucket-Williams can be heard saying, “I’m imploring you to figure out what we can do so people can get a place to stay tonight.” According to the video, residents were unable to retrieve their personal belongings in the hotel, including IDs and cell phones, making it difficult for them to find alternative shelter or access social services.

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“I don’t know who you gotta call, but we can’t leave people outside in the midst of a pandemic — a global health crisis,” says Pucket-Williams in the Facebook livestream. A group of transgender women at the hotel had been organizing since late April to make sure residents had food and shelter, while creating chore lists to keep the property maintained.

“This wouldn’t be happening in Ballantyne. This wouldn’t be happening in a white affluent neighborhood,” continues Pucket-Williams. “We’ve got to do something different.” The Days Inn has been in the spotlight for several months. In March, 34-year-old Monica Diamond was shot and died while being treated in an ambulance in the hotel’s parking lot, becoming the fourth violent reported death of a transgender person in 2020.

At 6:30 p.m. on May 21, the last individuals left the property. According to the CMPD press release, no injuries or arrests occurred, and no one was charged with violating the order. Couret says that all of the transgender women, including Johnson have found alternative temporary housing at another local hotel.

On May 22, residents were allowed back into the Days Inn to retrieve their personal property. The hotel is still closed to occupants.

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