SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — For one more week, city taxpayers will pick up the tab for hotel rooms so that some of those displaced from their apartments by an intentionally set fire have additional time to find new housing.
The city and department of social services have partnered with nonprofit organizations to help those displaced two weeks ago by the Suffolk Tower Apartments, according to city spokeswoman Diana Klink. Specifically, STOP Inc. — a community action agency — is working to “assess the needs of the displaced families and to assist those who qualify for their relocation services.”
“To allow time for the necessary assessments to be completed, the City of Suffolk Department of Social Services will continue to provide vouchers for the hotel stays, up to August 2nd,” Klink said in an email.
The city began paying for the hotel rooms for residents last Friday when Scott Alperin, the attorney representing the owner of the arson-stricken apartment building, told tenants he would no longer pay for lodging.
Alperin said the building was locked and that an electrical engineer found the building unsafe for re-occupancy. He said he wasn’t sure if or when the building would reopen.
Herbert Boothe, 69, was charged with arson, sexual battery and assaulting an officer. Court records obtained by 10 On Your Side state that Boothe admitted to “lighting a chair on fire” on the fifth floor, displacing dozens of people.
Most of the residents have been staying in the Quality Inn & Suites west of downtown. However, Klink said on Tuesday that the city was securing 16 hotel rooms elsewhere.
“The Quality Inn & Suites intended to raise their rates from the previously agreed upon $700.00 per week to $1,116.00 per week,” Klink said. “A bus provided by Suffolk Parks & Recreation will be providing transportation assistance for those affected individuals.”
Nobody at the Quality Inn was immediately available for comment.