Williamsburg works to help families in need ahead of hotel demolition

The city plans to demolish the Super 8 on Richmond Road.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – The city of Williamsburg is working to help families that will need to find a new place to live when a hotel shuts down next week. The city bought the Super 8 property on Richmond Road in January and is planning a demolition of the hotel and renovation of the area.

Dionna Wolmart, who lives and works at the hotel, said she didn’t know what to think when she learned of the closing.

“There’s not many opportunities here for people that are homeless like myself…I mean, the only opportunity…here in Williamsburg, is either a shelter or resort to staying in a hotel.”

Though she and her children have stayed at the hotel off and on for four years, she said she’s not moving to another one. She met with the city about finding transitional housing and other opportunities.

“Our approach is to help folks holistically and long-term. I use the analogy or the expression of, we just don’t want to use a Band-Aid,” said Roy Gerardi, an outreach and crisis counselor with Williamsburg Human Services.

About 35 people had been living in the hotel long-term. Some were able to find somewhere else to go and seven families met with Human Services counselors.

“There can be barriers in someone’s life that created difficulty for them to really get beyond motel living and we want to try to help them come up with a long-term plan,” Gerardi said.

A grant-funded “Care Team,” which includes social workers and nurses, has also helped one of the families in need.

“It’s mainly connecting folks to these resources because often…they didn’t get into this situation overnight, so it’s hard to fix the situation overnight,” Gerardi said.

Gerardi said several of the families have moved to different hotels with the same weekly rate. A Williamsburg ordinance states people can only stay in a hotel for 30 consecutive days.

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