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St. Petersburg's Mosley Motel, home to poor families, will finally close Sept. 30

 
Residents of St. Petersburg's Mosley Motel, home to many poor families, will be told Tuesday that it will close down on Sept. 30. That leaves residents six weeks to find a new place to live. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
Residents of St. Petersburg's Mosley Motel, home to many poor families, will be told Tuesday that it will close down on Sept. 30. That leaves residents six weeks to find a new place to live. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
Published Aug. 16, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG — Those who live at the Mosley Motel, the city's home of last resort for poor families, have six weeks to find a new place to live. The motel is expected to be shuttered on Sept. 30.

The new owners, Altis Cardinal Storage, said they will start notifying residents Tuesday.

Altis spokeswoman Lesley Valentin said the Miami company, which owns an apartment complex overlooking the motel at 401 34th St. N, has no firm plans for the property.

"But we can't keep operating it as a motel," she said. "There are code violations. The motel is not in any good condition. There are five people in a room."

The announcement followed an appellate court order Monday reversing a stay in the eviction of the Mosley's old owners. Altis acquired the property, which had been in foreclosure, on July 20. Eviction papers were served on Aug. 4. But the old owners fought it.

The off-again, on-again eviction process put the motel's residents in limbo. It also allowed the old managers to kick social workers off the property last week, keeping them from helping residents find new homes. The organizations plan to return to the motel at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday to meet with residents, some of whom have lived at the Mosley for several years.

St. Petersburg City Council member Amy Foster, who also sits on the Pinellas County Homeless Leadership Board, said her top priority is to get Mosley residents "the assistance they need to relocate."

Cliff Smith, the city's manager of veterans, social and homeless services, said his phone has been "ringing off the hook" since news spread of Monday's court decision.

Organizations including Catholic Charities, Daystar Life Center, Pinellas County Human Services and St. Vincent de Paul will set up shop at the motel after the old owners had them leave the property the week before.

Foster said she is confident that the agencies will be able to relocate most people, if given enough time.

"The rental market is tight, but I'm hopeful that we are going to be able to find places for most of the folks," she said. "And I know that some folks might not like any of the possibilities we are able to offer them."

She said social service agencies will work with landlords under the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Rapid Rehousing Program, which helps get people into homes regardless of issues such as bad credit and criminal backgrounds.

The Mosley's sign bills it as the place "where class meets economy." But the low-cost motel has had problems for years. The former owners forestalled a pending sale at a foreclosure auction by filing for bankruptcy. The city's nuisance abatement board has fined the motel thousands. And Historic Kenwood neighbors have long complained about the property, which police think is a magnet for violent crimes, public intoxication and drug use.

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Contact Waveney Ann Moore at @wmoore@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes.