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Star Motel Update: Congressman Soto Says Donors, Nonprofits Needed to Turn Motels Into Transitional Housing in Osceola County

The Star Motel, July 2020. Photo: Danielle Prieur, WMFE
The Star Motel, July 2020. Photo: Danielle Prieur, WMFE

Residents of the Star Motel in Kissimmee are still living without running water or electricity.

Congressman Darren Soto says local nonprofits want to buy one or two motels and turn them into transitional housing with wraparound services for Star Motel residents.

But Soto says federal Community Development Block Grants that could help with these purchases are currently being used to divert evictions and foreclosures related to the pandemic. 

“Of course there’s a way to leverage some of those dollars if we could get nonprofit ventures together and donors to help out with the conversion of one or two of those hotels. So certainly some of that money can be leveraged, just in keep in mind there’s a lot of need.”

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Soto says the Sadowski Trust Fund that was designed to support affordable housing in the area is constantly raided by the state legislature. 

He says some residents, their families and pets were moved from the Star to other motels thanks to federal coronavirus relief. 

“The CARES Act allowed for 50,000 in funding to help relocate some of those folks as well which ended up being a win for some of them. But overall, it’s just a tragic situation there.”

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Osceola County says some 80 families at the Star were relocated with the help of The Community Hope Center and the Homeless Ministry at the Poinciana Christian Church.

If you'd like to listen to this story, click on the clips above.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.