KISSIMMEE, Fla. — A Kissimmee hotel needs to pay at least $16,000 to get the power turned back on.

What You Need To Know

Star Motel, where about 60 families live, hasn’t had power since Monday.

Rosa Hernandez a mother of two kids said, “Especially with the pandemic, that happened, a lot of us were out of a job. A lot of us couldn’t pay rent… It’s hurtful because I think about all of them… Not only just me, I think about all of us.”

Management at Star Motel said they are having a hard time paying bills during this pandemic due to the lack of rent getting collected.

Kissimmee Utility Authority said the Star owes them nearly $29,000.

“While we are extremely sympathetic to the health and welfare of the affected residents, the hotel management has gone four months without making a payment, resulting in a very large unpaid balance. We’re here to help if the hotel management would simply reach out,” said KUA spokesperson Chris Gent.

When Spectrum News 13 reached out to Osceola County about the matter. The county's statement, in part, read:

“Sadly, the issues with Star Motel predate the current pandemic, though the COVID-19 crisis has certainly added additional financial hardships for all involved.

Our hearts go out to those living at the Star Motel -- and any other properties where the owners may be taking advantage of vulnerable residents. Unfortunately, the County has no control over decisions made by utilities in regard to clients who are behind on payments.  Further, it is our understanding that the owners of the Star Motel had been given several opportunities to make arrangements for delinquent accounts.  Complicating matters are the safety and health conditions that have drawn action to protect people from the substandard conditions that exist. This is not a new problem and the County has looked at all its available resources in order to assist residents. However, one of the underlying issues is a dispute about rent – and that is a matter for the courts to decide.

The County has worked with the motel owner for many months to no avail.  The County, in an effort to provide a more sanitary condition, removed several hundred pounds of trash, abandoned vehicles and general clean up.  Our goal now is to assist these families as best we can.

To assist these residents at Star Motel and also Lake Cecile Inn, the County’s Human Services team reached out to multiple agencies this week, including the Community Hope Center, Homeless Services Network, Osceola Council on Aging, Health Care Center for the Homeless and Community Based Care of Central Florida.

Community Based Care of Central Florida had outreach efforts at the Star Motel on Tuesday afternoon, during which they interviewed 18 families with children and numerous other households. They were able to identify several families that they will be able to assist, and will forward information on other families that requested assistance to the Community Hope Center for follow up. 

Additionally, the County’s Human Services Department set up a phone extension hotline for the families to call if they are in need of assistance. 

The continuing plan of action will be multi-agency outreach at the Star Motel during the first full week of July to try to assess individual households at the facility who need and who will be eligible for services

Over the next week, the County will identify available funding that may be able to assist with rental/deposit assistance, diversion or hotel stays to help these families. Additionally, the County’s goal is to identify how much of the CARES Funding will be allocated to the Homeless Services Network by July 1.