Updated at 5:59 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019.
Chattanooga Housing Authority leaders and managers of Chatt City Suites have reached an agreement to ensure residents aren't homeless next week when the extended-stay motel closes for major renovations, according to two people working with the housing authority.
The hotel operators still want everyone out of the motel by Tuesday, and the hotel's general manager denied residents would be given an extension. However, housing authority executive director Betsy McCright said the property's manager, Sunbest Management, agreed to allow residents to stay until the end of the month while they search for permanent housing.
When called for confirmation, a management company employee told the Times Free Press to call the motel and then hung up. Chatt City Suites manager Joyce Woodard said the company wants all residents out before Tuesday and would not be granting an extension. However, McCright said Friday the property owners have been "extremely" reasonable and are helping but don't want residents procrastinating until the end of the month.
"Management did agree to extend to month's end," she said. "They did absolutely give me their word [residents] would have until month's end."
Guests were given a note two days after Christmas the property would be shut down for a complete renovation. The letter informed the residents — some of whom have lived in the motel for a decade — they had to be moved out before Jan. 15.
Housing authority leaders were concerned the people living in the motel wouldn't be able to find permanent housing by Tuesday and would be homeless. Eligible residents received vouchers to supplement permanent housing Friday morning and are now continuing to search for places to live.
The vouchers allow residents to pay market value for a rental and will offset their cost. The city and other organizations are still trying to find landlords with available units who will accept the vouchers.
The vouchers help residents make up the difference between what they can pay and the cost of rent. Residents typically pay 30 percent of their rent and the vouchers pay the rest.
Those with available units can call the Chattanooga Housing Authority at 423-752-4893 and ask for housing navigator Theresa Biggs.
About 50 rooms in the 141-room motel have had guests move out, according to Woodard. Three of those have moved into other long-term motels, while the rest have found permanent housing, she said.
The property is owned by MH95 LLC, which purchased it from Sunbest Management in February 2013 for $3.3 million. Despite the sale, MH95 LLC, retained Sunbest Management to oversee the property.
The company is registered as a limited liability company in Wyoming but has a Chattanooga address. Its annual business filings in Wyoming are signed by a Chattanooga attorney. The company is owned by "private" local businessmen, according to a Sunbest Management employee who would not give his name.