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Explained: City of Pueblo shut down The Val U Stay Inn and Suites

Extended Emergency Housing and Shelter Declaration
Value Stay Inn
Posted at 11:42 AM, Apr 25, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-29 20:41:08-04

PUEBLO, Colo. — The City of Pueblo shut down The Val U Stay Inn And Suites April 25th, leaving about 60 families without a place to go.

The Val U Stay is located on North Hudson Avenue on the East Side of Pueblo.

Now, mattresses, furniture and trash piled up outside as cleaning crews are clearing out rooms. A former resident said people had to leave their belongings behind when the city came to evacuate everyone.

"You had folks coming home from work, all of a sudden it's you can't go in your room to get your insulin," said Anthony Santora.

Santora said residents were forced out weeks before they were told the business was going to close anyway.

Pueblo city officials said Val U Stay was given two weeks from April 10th to renew its business license.

With no license filed by the 20th, the mayor worked with the fire department, health department and regional building to evacuate people on April 25th.

In a statement, Major Heather Graham said the place was a safety concern because pueblo police responded to that address more than 16,000 times in the last year and a half.

Pueblo Police said they have been called to this building to investigate many crimes over the years, including homicides and drug dealing.

"It'll increase the problem and they still aren't going to the source of what made the area their aim of closing in the first place and that is they are not reducing the populations that are living outside," said Santora.

The Pueblo County Health Department spokesperson, Trysten Garcia, said its department received 11 complaints from people living there stay since 2023.

"Very seldom does our team ever have to go in and have to do a large scale operation like this, so it was a bit different but we wanted to make sure everyone that was there and subject to those conditions were afforded a chance to live in a healthy, safe and clean environment and that wasn't the case unfortunately," said Garcia.

“The way these people have been living for we know not just for days or months. for probably years. It's been unacceptable. Unacceptable to me as a mayor for the citizens of Pueblo,” Mayor Graham said.

The county's health department also checked for access to hot running water, air quality, adequate windows and ventilation system.

“It's very dirty. Lots of dogs poo and pee everywhere. Floors are cracking everywhere the doors are mess. Everything's just a mess,” CJ Burgess said.

Burgess, who lived there for months, said the building is a mess, but it is also home to her family and others.

“I do not have any where else to go so I guess it is back on the streets for me,” Burgess said.

Mayor Graham extended the city's emergency and shelter declaration to give its community partners more time to find suitable housing who lived there.

Local pueblo nonprofits and other organizations set up tables next door, so residents could sit in the shade. They also were offering residents resources and trying to find them a place to stay.

“I think with all the nonprofit providers we have here working on site today, I think that we are going to able to hopefully handle the displacement of people today,” Mayor Graham said.

But many residents said they've had to sleep outside.

"I'll take two sheets and make a makeshift tent over here by the river. I have no other place to go. I have no money, I have no job I have nothing no friends I have nothing I need help we need help,” Anaya said.

Police did allow residents to go in and gather all of their belongings once the inspection was done, but they were not allowed to stay.

This is the second hotel in Pueblo to have seen a similar operation, the Rodeway Inn, another extended stay inn located along Highway 50, was shut down in February.

WATCH: Rodeway Inn in Pueblo shutdown by Department of Health

Health officials said at the time there was a list of things that led to the Rodeway Inn being shut down including trash buildup and residents staying long-term in rooms that are not accommodated for that.

This is a developing story and News5 has a crew at the scene working to learn more.

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