‘Hotels are not meant for long-term living’: Henrico hotels raising public safety concerns

Henrico Police has responded to 2,000 hotel services calls in recent years.
Henrico Police has responded to 2,000 hotel services calls in recent years.
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 6:20 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Hotels and motels across Henrico are raising public safety concerns for Henrico County leaders.

Henrico’s Hotel-Motel Task Force Team is now swinging into action after an uptick in crime.

According to Henrico Deputy County Manager of Public Safety Michael Feinmel, Henrico Police have logged more than two thousand service calls to hotels and motels in the last two years.

“Many of these calls for service are driven by mental health issues and driven by substance abuse issues,” he said.

Feinmel says many people are either placed there temporarily by homeless services, by crisis stabilization or due to the high cost of housing.

“This is a crisis being dealt with all across the country and specific to Virginia as well,” he said. “COVID certainly contributed to it, the moratorium or evictions contributed to it, people’s credit issues contributed to it.”

He says the Broad Street corridor and Williamsburg Road in the East End are two hot spots for residential hotel living.

“I’ll drive by, at times, a hotel and see a school bus driving by or picking up kids, and it’s just devastating,” Feinmel said. “Kids should be playing outside and running around, playing basketball, or whatever. They shouldn’t be going to a hotel room and living in a hotel room.”

He says the next steps are analyzing the socioeconomic impacts Henrico residents are facing plus helping hotels change how they do business.

Feinmel says it’s not a one size fits all approach.

“They should be for people coming in town, for visitors, for times a water heater breaks down, and they need somewhere to stay. Hotels shouldn’t be where someone is living long-term.”

Feinmeil says they’re working with Commonwealth Catholic Charities and Henrico County Community of Revitalization, Henrico Social Services and Henrico Mental Health.

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