Pinellas Park motel residents may be homeless for holidays

Pinellas County

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (WFLA) – Brandon Thompson couldn’t believe it when he heard the news.

“My heart dropped. I got kids,” said Thompson. “I got nowhere else to go.”

Thompson is one of a handful of residents in a Pinellas Park motel that are being told that they have to vacate the property by Dec. 15 or 19.

Property records indicated the City of Pinellas Park Community Redevelopment Agency purchased the property in August for $880,000.

Laura Canary with the city says her agency will officially take possession of the motel and a few surrounding parcels on Jan. 1. In the mean time, the city has allowed the former owners to manage the property until that date.

The former property owner is listed as Tjahjono Sukirman of Tampa. The state’s department of business and professional regulation indicates he has a license to run a motel that expires next year.

As a motel operator, he can inform residents to leave almost immediately, but no one seems to understand why only now are they being informed they have to go. A woman who answered Sukirman’s phone told 8 On Your Side the residents were given plenty of time.

8 On Your Side also reached out to the City of Pinellas Park to find out if city leaders are aware of the situation at the property and what, if anything, they are able to do for residents.

Russ Antonacci lives in the home adjacent to the motel. He’s lived there for 25 years. His wife just died in May of 2018. He learned he has to be out the week before Christmas.

“She waited two months to even bother telling us,” said Antonacci. “In two months I could have saved up some money and had a place to go.”

Clarebel Roman lives in one of the units with her three teenage children. “I’m stressed. I’m a single mom. I have three kids in my house. It’s a struggle. Right now I don’t know where I’m going,” said Roman.

She says the next place she lives may have four tires.

“If I don’t find any place, I’m living in my car. It’s the only place I have. If I don’t find anyplace, where am I going? With three kids?” she said.

LATEST PINELLAS COUNTY NEWS:

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