It is expensive to be poor, just ask anyone who has had to take a cab to work, because it was too far to walk but they couldn’t afford a car.
The dilemma posed by a lack of ready cash also surfaces when it comes to housing, particularly in relation to rental deposits. Most landlords demand at least two months’ rent upfront — and, usually, three — to rent an apartment, which means you have to come up with $2,000 or more just to move in.
Some people have no way to get together the cash for a deposit. In South Glens Falls, the Clearview Motel offers an alternative — rooms that can be rented long-term, without deposits, for $800 a month, utilities included.
Brigid Martin, a local resident and former planning board member, who has taken an active interest in local issues, objects to the long-term rentals, and she called the motel “a fleabag dumping ground.”
That is harsh and untrue. The new owners, who bought the motel in 2015, have refurbished it, updating the rooms, painting the exterior and repaving the parking lot. It looks fine.
She also said allowing “substandard conditions” at the motel is “taking advantage of the poor.”
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She would have a point, if the conditions were substandard, but they’re not. The motel is filling a need for people who require housing in a spot where they can walk where they need to go and who cannot come up with the deposit for an apartment.
Motels that offer long-term rates are nothing new. Some motels in Lake George offer room or cabin rentals by the month in the off-season, and other motels throughout the region do the same thing year-round.
We do agree the fire safety equipment must be working in every room. The current debate was sparked by a smoky fire in one room in which the resident died. In that part of the motel complex, the smoke detectors are not wired in to the main office, as they are in other parts.
It would be reasonable for the village to inspect the rooms and insist that every one of them have a working smoke detector. It would be best for the motel to have hard-wired smoke detectors throughout the complex, and for the owners to start fining residents who disable the detectors so they can smoke in their rooms.
Martin seemed at the same time to be arguing the motel and its residents are an eyesore and that the residents deserve better housing. But where? And who is going to pay for that housing? It does the residents of the Clearview no good to say they should have real apartments with kitchens and other amenities while you’re kicking them to the curb.
Municipalities should be able to consider quality of life and act to shut down chronic nuisance properties that are a blight on the community. The Madden Hotel in Glens Falls fit that description, but the Clearview does not. We are encouraged by the improvements its owners have made, and as long as safety concerns are addressed, the hotel should be allowed to continue operating as it has been.