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Days from eviction, judge gives Mosley Motel residents a brief reprieve

ST. PETERSBURG — Residents of the Mosley Motel on Tuesday got a temporary reprieve just three days before their looming evictions.

Their attorney, Tamara Felton-Howard, said that Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold on Tuesday issued a stay of the eviction until he hears their case on Sept. 22. That gives the residents, who were supposed to be out of the Mosley by Friday, an extra week to continue looking for new housing.

Meanwhile, Felton-Howard says she still hopes to reach an agreement with the Mosley's new owners, Altis Cardinal, that would give her clients more time to find new places to live before the motel is permanently shuttered.

That is the latest development in the ongoing saga of the Mosley and the poor families who have long called the troubled motel home. Altis acquired the property this summer after it was in foreclosure. In August, it sent 30-day eviction notices to the motel's residents telling them they had to be out by Sept. 16.

City officials and social service providers knew the motel was about to change hands, but complained that the old management kept them from entering the property and preparing residents for the move. Thus, many residents first learned they would have to leave in August.

More than 60 residents have been fighting the eviction. They sought relief in Pinellas County court, but the judge ruled that the matter belongs in circuit court.

If St. Arnold rejects the petition next week, Felton-Howard said, residents would have just days to leave the motel at 401 34th St. N.

The old ownership group, which included Julious Mosley and St. Petersburg landlord Michael Shimshoni, are suing both the city and Altis. Mosley further accused the city, whose nuisance abatement board has fined the motel thousands of dollars, of targeting businesses "offering housing alternatives to low-income persons."

The motel has 110 rooms, and there may be as many as 400 residents left, including dozens of children.

Altis owns nearby properties but has not yet disclosed its plans for the area. However, city officials have said Altis plans to tear down the Mosley and redevelop the block.

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