Organization Helping Evicted Budgetel Families
EAST RIDGE, Tenn. (WDEF)- A week has passed since the Budgetel in East Ridge was shut down due to an eviction order from Hamilton County District Attorney Coty Wamp.Families are still scrambling even after a week to figure out their next steps. There’s an organization who already had a relationship with the families at the Budgetel, but now is serving as a lifeline in their hardest time.
The Rec Project, since its inception, has been in the business of helping out our area youth. The founder of the Rec Project, Christy Chapman, said that, “The idea was just to give the kids a safe place after school to hang out here in the city, to get them off the streets.”
In the wake of the Budgetel evictions, life has been incredibly difficult for the kids who were at the motel the organization serves. The Rec Project has been paying for several families to stay in other hotels in our area, even having them and their pets stay at their main building. But it is nowhere near a permanent solution.
Chapman describes the despair saying, “We’ve had crying, we’ve had them sitting there and rocking, we’ve had kids sitting there and rocking, we’ve had kids under the tables. They walk in the door and say “Mrs. Christy, I’m homeless.” and just bawling and crying. It’s heart wrenching. And then you try to assure them, “No, you’re not homeless.” knowing full and well that they’re homeless. Like, a 14 day hotel stay is not a home, these people cannot keep transitioning because we don’t have enough housing to house them.”
One family who the Rec Project has been helping lives that hardship as they received a four hour notice to evict. “We had all of our stuff there. We had four children with us and plus me and my husband. We had to pack up all of that stuff in minutes.” said evicted Budgetel residents Sherri Caldwell and Brad Duffey.
They say they received no help from county or city officials, with Sherri saying that, “No, they handed us a list of homeless shelters.” and Brad quipping that , “They helped us by telling us to get out, that was the only help that they gave us.”
They are grateful for the help of the Rec Project. Sherri says of her teenage daughter, “She went to the Rec Center and has been talking about it ever since. So she goes back all the time and plays and meets new children in the community and she loves it.”
For Christy Chapman, there’s a message she wants you to know about those who were evicted.
She wants you to know that, “It was made to sound like it was a bunch of thugs and a bunch of druggies, and there were probably some of that over there just like in every other neighborhood, but the majority of the people were elderly, veterans, and families.”
If you would like to volunteer or assist the Rec Project as they serve children affected by this situation, you can visit their website at https://recprojectinc.com/.
They are also open for after school activities most school days for children in our area at their building, located at the corner of Ringgold Road and Spring Creek Road in East Ridge.