Legislature Corner: Mitchell Motel Working Group Visits Unconscionable Site

The Mitchell Motel on St, Thomas (Submitted photo)

Senator Donna A. Frett-Gregory visits Mitchell Motel to assess the progress of the government’s agencies

After an intense summer of budget hearings, Senator Donna A. Frett-Gregory, chair of the 35th Legislature’s Committee on Budget, Appropriations and Finance, along with her staff and St. Thomas Administrator Avery Lewis, visited the Mitchell Motel on St. Thomas to assess the progress made to address the issues identified by the senator and her recently formed “Mitchell Motel Working Group.”

After many calls from concerned citizens about the conditions of the derelict Mitchell Motel, Sen. Frett-Gregory formed the “Mitchell Motel Working Group” in April of 2023. In addition to the senator, the Mitchell Motel Working Group is comprised of Sen. Marvin Blyden, St. Thomas Administrator Avery Lewis, Commissioner of Public Works Derek Gabriel, Deputy Commissioner of Property and Procurement Vincent Richards, Commissioner of Human Services Kimberly Causey-Gomez, Commissioner of Health Justa Encarnacion, and Acting Commissioner of the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs Nathalie Hodge.

The group has been meeting regularly to formulate solutions to address the homeless, derelict situation at the Mitchell Motel, which is negatively impacting homeowners in that community. “After visiting the site yesterday, I am pleased to see the progress made by the executive branch in removing the debris and abandoned vehicles from the property,” said Frett-Gregory.

“There are approximately 20-25 unhoused individuals who utilize the derelict property for shelter. When we visited the site earlier this year, the place was horrific, and it was unconscionable that persons in our community could be living in those conditions and it goes unnoticed and unaddressed,” said Frett-Gregory. “I immediately engaged with the various government agencies to address the conditions and issues at the Mitchell Motel. The short-term solution of cleaning the property was immediately engaged with the understanding that the executive branch will have to devise a long-term solution for the property.”

The Departments of Health and Human Services have visited the property to provide wrap-around services to the unhoused individuals. Those services include medical, behavioral health and housing assistance.

“While I acknowledge that the site is an eyesore, we must have some humanity in dealing with those individuals who shelter on the site, some of whom clearly have behavioral health issues,” said Frett-Gregory. “It is my hope that these services continue until the long-term plan has been developed.”

“The government cannot provide all necessary services to meet our community needs, which is why it is important to engage in private/public partnership to fill the void. As for the long-term solution for the site, it is my hope that consideration be given to a private/public partnership for behavioral health or housing opportunities,” she said.