CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates is accusing a Chesterfield hotel of maintaining horrible living conditions.
Sheila Bynum-Coleman and a local non-profit posted a Facebook video tour of one of the rooms this week in an effort to raise awareness. The video has more than 6,000 views. The tour is aimed at showing poor living conditions at the America’s Best Value Inn in Chesterfield.
“It’s heartbreaking, as a society we’ve kind of drifted away from what’s right,” said Chris Lane, who started the non-profit Guardians with his wife two years ago.
For years, Lane says he’s tried to get local and state officials to do something about poor conditions at some of the hotels in the Richmond area where a number of families live.
“The biggest concerns for me are the black mold, the roaches, and the raw sewage that was backing up in one of the bath tubs,” said Lane.
Lane says for most of these families, financially, these hotels and inns are their only option.
“I’m a Marine corps veteran and I didn’t sign up to protect and serve my country to come back and watch these conditions in my own back yard,” Lane said.
Lane says the one person who has listened is Coleman, who posted the video to her Facebook page.
“I was just in shock,” Coleman said. “I had heard about it but to actually see it affected me in an entirely different way. I couldn’t believe that people were living in these situations.”
“I was just in shock. I had heard about it, but to actually see it affected me in an entirely different way. I couldn’t believe that people were living in these situations.” — Sheila Bynum-Coleman
Coleman says their goal is to raise awareness and be a voice for residents afraid to speak out.
“They’re afraid of being displaced and being homeless,” Coleman said.
We spoke to the hotel’s general manager, who referred us to his attorney but did say the rooms are fine and the woman who let the camera in is being evicted for failing to pay rent. He calls the video and the complaints nothing more than a stunt.
Coleman, meanwhile, says officials have to get involved.
“Agencies need to do a better job inspecting these properties because people live here,” Coleman said.
8News also reached out to Chesterfield County for a response to the claims. They sent us the following statement:
“Chesterfield County investigates the complaints it receives regarding property maintenance concerns. By law, a tenant must grant the inspector access to the unit on site before the inspector can enter their dwelling unit. Tenants may call Building Inspections’ Citizen Assistance Line at 748-1779 to file a complaint.
We have received some complaints about Americas Best Value Inn. The building is not condemned. In recent years, all but one complaint have been for exterior conditions. In 2016, the Department of Building Inspection investigated a complaint about the interior of a unit. An inspector responded to the complaint and ordered repairs, which were completed. Most recently, the Department of Building Inspection investigated a complaint last week about exterior conditions for which the county issued a notice of violation to the owner for multiple violations observed. The Department of Building Inspection has given the owner 30 days to make necessary repairs and corrections.”