NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – 10 On Your Side ran a story about homeless families living in hotels last week. Now, a local business owner has reached out to help one of them.
WAVY.com’s report was about a new ordinance on the Peninsula that could force homeless families living in hotels back to the streets. The man who is reaching out to help was not watching us; he was listening to a radio station that was talking about our story.
On May 12, WAVY.com featured Kevin and Lisa Pennington. Their family is basically homeless, forced to live in a motel due to bad credit and little money. During our report, their son Kristofer was asked if he likes living in a motel. His response: “it is better than living on the street.”
Norma Centeno broadcasts on Selecta 1050, which is Hampton Roads only Spanish speaking radio station. She read our story on WAVY.com: “I found local news from WAVY 10,” she said with a laugh.
One of her listeners is Luis Cortes, who is the owner of a landscaping business.
“They are unfortunate, and in uncertain circumstances. Yes, I am from a single mother, and I know it is hard to make it,” Cortes said.
Cortes just got a big contract with VDOT and there’s lots of work to do, so he’s looking to hire.
“I can give [Kevin Pennington] a job in construction or landscaping working for me,” he said.
Cortes responded online to Centeno at the radio station.
“When Luis wrote to me, and said ‘Norma, I can help.’ I said ‘that is awesome,’” Centeno said.
10 On Your Side asked Kevin if Cortes offers him the job, if he would take it. Kevin responded: “I certainly will … that is just awesome.”
Cortes can also drive Pennington to and from work because Kevin doesn’t own a car, “It’s just wonderful. He saw our story, and understands what we are going through, and is willing to give,” Pennington says.
Cortes will also help Pennington fix up a mobile home in Virginia Beach, but the final details on where they will live remain unknown.
Jammie Abbott with Hotelkids.org has been helping the family too.
“We’re currently looking for houses for him, and hopefully by the first we will get them a home … they are not back on their feet, but they are on their knees, and from their knees they will get on their feet. One step at a time,” Abbott said.
The Penningtons also told WAVY.com they have found no services available to them at Newport News Human Services. This from a city that is implementing a new ordinance where people can only stay 30 days within a 60-day period in a hotel or motel that does not have a kitchen. They say the only thing they received when they went for help at Human Services was a one-day bus pass.