90.7 WMFE and 89.5 WMFV are Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming and Classical Music. Part of the community since 1965, providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

As the Star Motel Continues to Be Boarded Up, Manager Sarah Russo Asks “Do Our Lives Matter?”

Sarah Russo. Photo: Danielle Prieur

More resident rooms and the front office at the Star Motel in Kissimmee were boarded up Wednesday. Osceola County says the property is unsafe to live in.

The Star Motel’s front office is boarded up. Photo: Danielle Prieur

Just a handful of the Star Motel’s rooms are still open. Most are covered in plywood, their numbers spray-painted on in neon orange. 

Manager Sarah Russo says her room hasn’t been touched yet, but it’s only a matter of time. And with the front office boarded up, she says they can’t run their business.

“Every bit of our materials to rebuild. All of our paperwork. All of our filing cabinets. Everything. Right now we’re at a loss.”

Rev. Mary Downey says some of the remaining residents are working with her nonprofit The Community Hope Center to find short-term housing at other motels. 

“Even if a family or a household has said in the past that they’re not looking for support from the Hope Center, but they change their mind. They’re welcome to reach out to us and we’ll happily have those conversations. Because again, we’re here to help every family whose experienced homelessness because of what’s happened at the Star.”

Downey says they’ve rehoused 44 families, 8 of which have gone on to find long-term housing in homes or apartments. 

Russo isn’t sure where her family will go if they’re forced to leave. She said she cried today watching two long-term residents’ rooms being boarded up. But she’s planning on staying and fighting for her home.

“Do our lives matter? My question is do our lives matter? Because right now it don’t feel like it.”

Willie’s room gets boarded up again. Photo: Danielle Prieur

There continues to be no homeless shelters and limited affordable housing in Osceola County.

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

Get The 90.7 WMFE Newsletter

Your trusted news source for the latest Central Florida news, updates on special programs and more.

Stay tuned in to our local news coverage: Listen to 90.7 WMFE on your FM or HD radio, the WMFE mobile app or your smart speaker — say “Alexa, play NPR” and you’ll be connected.

WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity

Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

Reporter & Fill-in Host

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, ... Read Full Bio »