MODESTO — The dozen or so people who remain at the Budgetel Inn in Modesto have been staying there without power for the last 24 hours.
“I’m scared,” said tenant Carolyn Krauss.
Without power, Krauss has to rely on a portable oxygen tank, which is nearly empty.
“Not good. I’m probably going to the hospital,” she said. “I don’t feel very good at all.”
Tenants say California Rural Legal Assistance advised them to stay there because they paid rent but were never given the services they paid for after the operator’s bankruptcy filing. CRLA attorneys met with tenants on Thursday, but would only confirm that they were investigating the matter.
“Took our money knowing that we were probably going to be gone here in a few days and they still took our money for the next week or two and that’s just not OK,” tenant Tyler said.
City spokesman Thomas Reeves says the Board of Building Appeals was expected to meet to discuss the Budgetel’s future.
Reeves says the board has tried to work with the owners since September to get them to address issues like mold, rodents, electrical work and accessibility.
The property owner now faces civil penalties totaling $100,000.
If the owners don’t take action, Reeves says the city will.
“Allowing the city then to come in and make those improvements because the quality of life of our residents is the most important thing,” he said.
The city says it will only consider demolishing the building if it’s determined to be beyond saving. Reeves insists demolition is the last resort.
Meanwhile, renters say they know they’re on borrowed time — but the Budgetel is the only home they know.
“We’d like to find a way to transfer into permanent housing, is what we need,” tenant Christine Steele said.
“I just want to get this settled so we can go on, get a house to live in and be comfortable,” Krauss said.
During a meeting, city officials said from July 1, 2017 until Feb. 27, 2019, 1,484 calls for service were made regarding incidents at the Budgetel, as well as nearby Denny’s.