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This story has been updated to include a statement from Rhode Island Housing Secretary Stefan Pryor’s spokesperson confirming that none of the motel’s current guests are being asked to leave.
WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Norman and Avadel McCarthy have been living at the Motel 6 on Jefferson Boulevard since March.
Norman, who’s a handicapped veteran, said that it’s the only place the couple can afford to stay.
“We’ve been paying out of pocket and borrowing money from friends,” Norman explained. “Whatever we have to do.”
The McCarthys told 12 News Thursday afternoon they were under the impression that they were being forced out to make room for more than four dozen homeless individuals who were previously staying at the Cranston Street Armory, which is slated to close next week.
“Since we didn’t live at the armory, we have to get out,” Norman recalled the motel owner saying when he tried to extend their stay earlier this week.
“Where are we going to stay?” he questioned. “Are we going to have to live in our car again?”
Avadel told 12 News she’s less worried for herself and more for her husband of 30 years.
“It’s not right that he served our country and now he’s going to be sleeping in a car,” Avadel said, adding that he can’t stay in a shelter because of his disability.
In a statement to 12 News Thursday evening, a spokesperson for Rhode Island Housing Secretary Stefan Pryor said the couple will not be kicked out of the motel, nor will anyone who is currently staying there.
“We have confirmed with management of the [motel] that no one is being displaced or asked to leave because of the new efforts to provide emergency shelter, and there are no plans to do so,” Joseph Lindstrom wrote in the statement. “We learned there was miscommunication that led to confusion. But the couple in question, along with other long-term guests are, in fact, able to stay at the hotel.”
Even though the couple is allowed to stay at the motel, Norman said he’s frustrated with the lack of affordable housing in Rhode Island.
“Landlords want a 620 [credit] score, three times the rent … it’s crazy,” Norman said. “We looked at a house just last week and they wanted a $100 application fee.”
“[Housing] needs to be affordable for everybody,” he added. “Not just for us, but for everybody.”
Warwick Mayor Frank Picozzi said he’s concerned with the influx of homeless individuals at the motel, especially since 40 others have been living there since last fall.
The city’s police department told 12 News that officers have responded to more than 300 calls at that Motel 6 since those 40 moved in, and officers have conducted 225 directed patrols.
While Picozzi is willing to do all he can to help, he is worried the city’s police force will be stretched too thin.
“We can’t be short-handed because of calls to [the motel],” he said. “This is a situation where we are reacting and dealing with it the best we can.”
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