‘Very embarrassing’ Nearly 5 months after displacement, Jennings seniors still can’t come home, stuck at hotel

‘Cooped up’ in a hotel and unable to go home just a few miles away.
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 10:16 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - ‘Cooped up’ in a hotel and unable to go home just a few miles away.

Residents of Fairview Village Senior Apartments have been displaced since December of last year.

“It’s tears of anger, it’s tears of frustration, most of all it’s the fear that we are not at home,” said Pat Simmons, a resident now staying in a hotel.

For nearly five months, the four walls of a hotel room is as close to what you can call home for some North County seniors citizens.

It’s been hard on some residents, including Simmons.

“I am going through depression, anxiety, and I have a doctor’s appointment on the 7th. For my nerves,” said Simmons.

On Christmas Day 2022, a pipe burst led to flooding and evacuations.

When News 4 first told you about this in January around one dozen residents were staying at the Hilton Garden Inn. Now, it’s up to 25 people.

Remoria Betty Jean Taylor and Rochelle Jackson moved in more recently after staying with family.

“I think it’s very, very embarrassing and very heartbreaking for us seniors to have to go through this,” said Jean Taylor.

“Who thinks that this would happen to them? Nobody,” said Jackson.

Signs on the building on Thursday indicated it was “unfit for human occupancy.” Management isn’t exactly sure when residents are going to be able to come home.

“We know that they have been displaced and it’s been a hard thing,” said Executive Director of RISE Community Development, Terrell Carter.

Carter said they still need to fix the select units in the building that flooded and has no timeline of when the work will be finished. He said they’re waiting on permits from the city of Jennings.

“As soon as those permits are issued we will get to work repairing the units and when those units are repaired we’ll be able to move the residents back into their homes,” said Carter.

Jennings Mayor Gary Johnson told News 4 over the phone before the interview with Carter, that the city has expedited permits and waived fees to get the building done quickly.

He also declined to blame anyone for the issues. But Johnson, who took over as Mayor this spring, said there previously was miscommunication and a lack of understanding in the past.

The pipe burst has been costly for RISE. Carter said they’re spending around $800,000 on construction, and another $130,000 for hotel and food costs for the displaced seniors.

Jackson said she has no indication when and if she can ever go home. Carter said his line is always open.

“They have my personal cell phone number and they actually call me on a daily basis. They are aware of the challenges that have been occurring and they know we have been working diligently on their behalf to get them back into their building,” said Carter.

Residents at the hotel said they’re frustrated at how long it’s taking.

“Stop telling me that you’re going to do the job and do the job,” said Jackson.

And a lack of a clear timeline can be irritating.

“We’re all wondering when we’re going back home,” said Simmons.