Williamsburg's Homeless & Indigent

P.O. Box 366, Lightfoot, VA 23090
Office: 757-561-3255
"Assisting people in re-gaining hope and a better way of life."

Sunday, November 16, 2003


Some refer to it as cheesy, with plastic chairs; others say it is a motel for transients; many say the owner, Mrs. Lee is a tough cookie; my opinion for what it is worth, I say all the statements are true to some extent, but it is worth saving. What do I mean by saving? The Tioga Motel is one of the soon to be extinct weekly motels in Williamsburg. Mrs. Lee is very tough, but she needs to be. Her motel was built in 1940 and considering it's age and Mrs. Lee's age (she is around 70ish), they both have a lot of character to offer the area. The Tioga has roughly 25 rooms, a nice large in-ground pool and a well-paved parking area. Actually the motel is in better shape than Mrs. Lee. She is very sick but still kicking'. Mrs. Lee has always kept the rooms in good condition and the outside is well maintained, except it still reflects the style of the 40's. The property is worth a little over half a million and Mrs. Lee is priceless.

So why does all this matter? Why am I blogging about an older lady in her 70's and a motel that is one of the few still opened or not sold yet? Because she and the motel matters to many that call it home, including Mrs. Lee. Many of the churches place transients at the Tioga when they have nowhere to sleep. Many of the working homeless live in the rooms. And even visitors stay during the tourist season here. Mrs. Lee is strict, because she wants to keep a nice, wholesome appearance at her motel and does not allow anyone to stay together if they are not married, nor does she allow any drug usage or rowdiness on her property. So if you consider that strict, then so be it. But, I consider it a proper old fashion personality that maybe if other motel owners had; their hotels would be as well maintained as hers.

As a matter of fact, another hotel owner 2 doors down at the Southern Inn is trying to close down the Tioga. Why? Well, for many reasons. First of all, he has not maintained his motel as well as Mrs. Lee. He has allowed many people to shack up, hang out drunk outside the rooms and rent to patrons that have illegal activity on the property. Also, recently his back rooms on the property have been cited for health violations (bad plumbing that leaks sewage into the ground). But he has a plan! He is going to have the zoning changed and build college apartments on the few parcels of land he owns. This is more economic for him than the people that live in it currently. Yes, the building plans look nice and updated. It will cost a lot of money and his family has it to pay for the new construction, but what about the people who live in the motel now? Oh and what about parking? Well the two questions are easy to answer. He kicked everyone out of his motel, except a couple of people who work for him. And the parking? Well, that is where Mrs. Lee comes in.

Awhile back he tried to buy Mrs. Lee's property, yet she refused to sell it to him. So again he has tried and again she refused. So the next alternative? Get the city to condemn the building and include it by force in his plan for the college apartments. Well, as I have stated, Mrs. Lee is a tough cookie so she is fighting with all her might to save her motel and the people who need it. Actually, I have also joined in her efforts to keep the Tioga open. The building is more well maintained than any of the weekly motels; they have the least amount of trouble on the property than any of the weekly motels; the rates are affordable enough for the working homeless to call it home; and Mrs. Lee lives in the front of the building versus most motel owners who don't oversee the patrons and the property.

Oh but wait, if the Tioga is closed (because of the almighty dollar of a man whose family already have millions and no concern for the people they make money off of), doesn't that mean that Mrs. Lee, an 80ish year old lady who cares about the people that stay at her motel, will be homeless as well? What has happened to an area that once said it took pride in it's preservation of history, (especially now that Colonial Williamsburg is laying people off of work at the highest rate this area has seen)? Where has peoples' hearts sunk? And who will care if another motel closes and people are put onto the street?

I don't know about you, but the last I checked, people had feelings. It just seems around here the only feelings that are thriving are greed, money, bigger and better, poor, cold, loneliness, abandonment and fear. Just goes to show the rich get richer at someone else's expense and the poor get the street or prison.


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