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City of Newport News provides free hotels to Seaview residents forced to leave

Seaview Lofts hotel.PNG
Posted at 10:31 PM, Jul 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 22:31:11-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - The City of Newport News is putting Seaview Lofts residents in hotel rooms for the next six days. These rooms are being paid for with taxpayer money.

The city tells News 3 that the property owner has not stepped forward to help residents or provide any type of housing assistance.

Nathan Robison has lived in the apartment building for two years. He was forced to leave his home Friday on short notice after the Newport News Department of Codes Compliance deemed the building "unsafe" due to the one operating elevator at the building not being up to code.

"Like I told the city manager this morning when talking to her, I thanked her for my 56th birthday present. I get to be homeless at 56. Thank you for my birthday present," Robinson tells News 3 reporter Leondra Head. "This was a harsh, inhumane thing they did today to 200 families. In this economy and heat, it was just straight wrong."

Nathan Robinson.PNG
Seaview Lofts resident Nathan Robinson speaks to News 3 reporter Leondra Head

Like many other Seaview tenants, Robinson is staying in the hotel through the holiday weekend. The city is providing hotels to Seaview tenants until July 6.

"We have a voucher for six days. After six days, you’re on your own. So, basically it was just a band-aid," Robinson said.

He says he doesn’t know when he’ll be able to return home to Seaview to get the rest of his belongings.

"I was told today that after six days, there is no need of even coming back because it’s nothing they can do. So, after six days, you’re on your own."

The city and the owner of Seaview Lofts have been in and out of court since April, with the city trying to compel the owner to get the elevators fixed. Thirteen criminal charges were filed against the owner in April due to code violations.

The apartment building released a statement Thursday night saying supply chain issues have caused delays in parts arriving, delaying repairs.

"I understand there is a part shortage, but the city didn’t have to do this, this way," Robinson said.

One pastor came to Seaview with a small gesture to help residents who are going through a tough time.

"Let's put our money where our mouth is. So, we brought gift cards. We ended up buying a little over $700 worth of gift cards, and we are passing them out to each resident as we see them," Pastor Norman Cunningham of Tabernacle of Praise said.

The hotel arrangement is expected to be a temporary situation until the owner of the apartment fixes the elevator and the building passes inspection. The inspection could come as early as next week, but not until after the July 4 holiday weekend. If the elevator passes inspection, residents will get to move back into their homes.

Related: Local organization helping Seaview Lofts residents forced to vacate