Gatlinburg city officials say several charitable organizations, in cooperation with Sevier County Electric System have come forward and paid to reestablish electricity to Creekside and Ski View motels for 10 days while tenants look for new housing.
Power was restored to the two motels around 6 p.m. Thursday.
Officials say many of the residents are families with school-age children and parents who work locally. Residents will have until June 4 to find a new place to live. After that, the buildings will again be without power and residents will not be able to access the buildings due to safety reasons.
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City building and fire codes do not allow people to live in multi-family units without electricity due to the lack of functioning smoke detectors, fire alarms, exit lights and hot water.
Residents will also be directed to area resources and housing options to help them relocate.
Current property owners Maury and Joan Greenstein sent a letter to current renters Tuesday saying the previous landlord had died several days ago and issues with the electricity needed to resolved among other things.
The power was shut off at the Creekside Inn of the Smokies and Ski View Motel Wednesday morning.
Finding affordable housing
Daniel and Joni Newberry were moving all of their stuff Thursday out of their room at Creekside Inn and putting it into a storage unit.
“We’re just taking it a step at time,” said Daniel Newberry. “There’s no plan, I mean nobody was prepared for this.”
While the Newberrys have somewhere to put their belongings they have nowhere to stay themselves.
“There is no affordable housing,” said Joni Newberry. “We have been looking and been on lists for apartments.”
The Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministry has stepped into help the displaced renters and have helped about 10 families. Director Dick Wellons says they are having trouble placing them in housing close to their downtown Gatlinburg jobs.
“Being the number of workers, at this time of the year in particularly, there’s a real shortage of places to stay even if it was in the county, much less just in Gatlinburg,” said Wellons.
Allen Newton with the Sevier County Economic and Development Council says affordable housing is one of the biggest problems the county faces.
“A lot of times when you are looking at that type of development, the costs are astronomical for the rents we need to charge,” said Newton.
He says the county has been working hard on finding a solution.
“We’re in hopes of maybe announcing some new affordable housing projects, and at least four in community, over the next two or three weeks,” said Newton.
Renters like Joni and Daniel Newberry say this affordable housing is what the workers in Gatlinburg deserve.
“We want housing,” said Joni Newberry. “We want someplace we can go that doesn’t take two people’s income just to pay the bills.”