Hotel Tenants & 'Shelter in Place'
This week in Charlotte, a Days Inn hotel made a split decision to shut down, leaving residents in a crisis to decide what to do. Many of the residents at this hotel are trans and queer, and the majority, BIPOC who are homeless and have no where else to go.
The hotel management gave the tenants just a couple hours to figure out what to do. Monday night, a black trans woman community organizer named Myka T. Johnson jumped on the scene to do a live video that showed security trying to throw them out.
Attorneys through legal-aid and an organization called 'Tenant Organizing and Resource Center' (TORC) stepped in to cover the tenants and asked them to STAY IN PLACE. Because the tenants have paid rent to be at this hotel, the management would have had to go through court to legally evict them. Because of the pandemic, the court is not open in North Carolina for evictions until June 1st.
When the tenants learned of their rights to have their shelter in place, the management at Days Inn decided to use unethical practices to try and get them out. They turned off their power and water, leaving many people in the dark and without a way to eat, care for themselves, or clean themselves for 12 hours.
The community really stepped in on Tuesday, including Rene, our Assistant Director and we showed up to be a voice of advocacy, support, and There's Still Hope was able to provide lunch for a couple of days to the tenants and organizers. A few other organizations have been there to show support too such as Paris - Transitioning of the Carolinas, Nada - Charlotte Pride, Jasmine - Greater Charlotte Rise, Legal-Aid, and a few other trans and cis women who are tenants at the hotel. Sheriff McFadden arrived on site to talk with people, Pat Cotham made phone calls to ensure the management turned the power/water back on, Braxton Winston arrived, as well as media sources such as WFAE (Read article) and the Charlotte Observer (Read Article). It was good to see the community coming together to serve.
By that afternoon, management tried to convince people to leave by giving them immediate refunds as well as $200 to help relocate them, but by this time it was too late. Legal advice was encouraging them to not leave and not accept any money because they have paid for their space and right to live where they are. When they didn't leave, the management still deactivated their key cards and many people were locked out of their rooms overnight.
On Wednesday, Rene was back on the scene to volunteer provide lunch and a hopeful presence. That afternoon tension was high between tenants and management and eventually the management staff moved all of their office equipment out due to fear, which is rooted in classism, racism, and transphobia. The tenants were left to organize the community and take care of the community themselves. The saddest part was to see people showing up looking to get in their rooms only to find out that they cannot get in because their key card is deactivated.
That evening, tenants were worried because police continued to mobilize in the community and search for certain tenants, even without a warrant. Some people had no way to get into their rooms, leaving them to get the support of other tenants to help them eat, shower, and rest. This is totally against the standards of sheltering in place, but someone has to take care of the people who have paid for their space and deserve the right to be safe.
By Thursday, things seemed to have become more streamlined. The organizers had a sign up sheet for people who wanted to drop off food, cleaning products, etc. Money was raised which allowed the volunteers on site to buy more cleaning products, and Wedgewood Church allowed them to do their laundry and linens for the families and people who are living in the hotel.
Private security blocked the entrance, only allowing tenants and volunteers entrance. Volunteers brought more food and cleaning supplies. Local clergy donated a vacuum so that the tenants could clean the halls and their rooms, and volunteers take turn being present and walking around, making sure people are safe.
Yesterday even more people showed up and we are seeing more news covering the situation, like Fox 46 Charlotte (Read article), WSOC-TV, and local radio stations. Loaves & Fishes came by to donate fresh food, as well as India from The Bulb.
There are families that live at his hotel and the youngest tenant is only 3 months old. It was beautiful to see the community coming together to donate food, diapers, wipes, formula, and more.
We are bringing this news to you to share how when people come together in the community to support one another, we all win. And when we fight for the rights of black trans women, everyone benefits. It's not too late to help, share good news, and spotlight people doing excellent work in the community! Here is a list of community resources if you are in need of support during this time. And below, please find an updated list of what is needed to help at the Days Inn hotel on Woodlawn Rd. in Charlotte, NC CLT.
If you'd like to help with these efforts you can Cashapp
Myka: $BlackTransFemme Venmo: Myka-92-TiredTransfemme
Or Paris: @translivesmatter
Or Rene (TSH): @Rcouret
Or a tax deductible donation to http://tshcharlotte3.org/donate
Money has been distributed to the tenants and to purchase things as listed below: