KENT, Wash. — In one day, nearly 90 Venezuelan migrant families in Kent face the risk of eviction from a hotel where they’ve been staying.
The refugees, along with advocacy groups, are calling on local officials to stop this from happening.
Last month, the King County Council provided $3 million in funding to help secure 100 hotel rooms for some of the migrant families.
However, the Quality Inn in Kent has been housing about 200 migrants without financial help from the state or county.
Before this, many of them lived in tents at the Riverton Park United Methodist Church camp in Tukwila. Families say they faced unsanitary conditions and brutal weather for months.
“It was so hard. Just imagine the cold. Personal hygiene. How can we shower? How can we eat?” said José Gregorio Guerrero, who migrated from Venezuela with his wife.
With no space left at the camp, the two of them ended up on the street until about three weeks ago, when they were brought to the Quality Inn in Kent. They are now surrounded by several other families who face the similar challenges.
“Getting started is a little difficult for any immigrant. But then we start adapting to this new country. What we are asking for is a little help settling down,” Guerrero explained.
Unfortunately, time is not on their side.
“This has been a huge financial burden on us and we are asking for help,” said Eli Lin, who is the hotel’s general manager.
Min and his family run the Quality Inn. They agreed to temporarily assist the refugees in need weeks ago. But as a small family business, they can no longer continue without any help in return.
“If they just stayed here through the cold period and they left, and then we just did our part and didn’t get paid…we’d be happy with that. We’d feel like we’ve made a difference and saved lives. It was just the promises, and waiting this much longer, and nothing followed through,” Min said.
After several empty promises, Min says they have no other choice.
“We were given deadlines and those promises were not met, so ever since January 10th we have not received a single penny for everything so we have no resources,” he said.
The refugees are expected to hold a peaceful protest on Tuesday to call for more resources.
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