Huge damage bill expected from motels used to house homeless after recent tent camps

“Isn’t it a shame that we’re helping these people…and have to spend so much money on damage?” – Prince Mayor Ken Lamming, speaking on the six-figure damage bill

Claims for damages to Bel-Air and Satelite motels after homeless people were moved there from tent camps last fall are expected to easily exceed six figures, according to members of the Sault Ste. Marie’s social services board found out Thursday night.

Jeff Barban, director of housing services for DSSMSSAB, cited a preliminary estimate of $165,528.

“It’s just attributed to the damage being greater than what we originally estimated,” Barban said.

“This funding will be used to fund the balance of both hotels as we return them to their original condition.”

Asked by SooToday to provide further information on the damage to the motel, DSSMSSAB general manager Mike Nadeau said a full report would be provided at a February board meeting.

Nadeau said a third hotel he did not identify was also being used as a homeless shelter and he expressed concern that the $165,528 estimate was incomplete.

“In terms of the damage numbers, that’s what we estimate. I asked Jeff to make sure we came up with a full report,” he said.

“I’m nervous about quantifying it. I was surprised he gave a number because as far as I know we weren’t finished.”

“I’m not comfortable listing that because I haven’t seen the tally yet,” Nadeau told us, adding, “But it’ll be in the six figures, like Jeff said. .”

“Isn’t it a shame that we are helping these people, whoever needs help, and have to spend so much money on damages,” said Prince Mayor Ken Lamming, board member of DSSMSSAB .

“It’s a shame. It’s a waste of money,” Lamming added.

“I share your sentiment,” said Luke Dufour, councilor for Ward 2 and president of DSSMSSAB.

“I think the real shame is that the damage is dollar for dollar from services we could otherwise provide to Verdi’s low-barrier shelter, which was already set to go into construction this summer,” said Dufour.

SooToday asked Nadeau if social services had any legal options to recover damage costs.

“We are currently having discussions internally to see what clawback mechanisms, if any, we can put in place.”

“Right now…we’re only 20 days into January. We’re just making sure we’re honoring our agreement with the hotel owner right now,” Nadeau said.

He said the report to be presented next month will be a full account, with photographs “that tell that story”.

“The reason we are trying to provide this comprehensive report…is to demonstrate the need for supportive housing and to show what happens when housing is provided without this strategic objective, as was done following the protest. “