Residents and employees at the Capitol Park Hotel say renovation work underway is causing water to flow out of places in the building it’s not supposed to and not flowing to other places in the building it’s needed.
Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment says it is helping hotel residents move to other affordable housing sites as part of a plan to make the hotel a transitional housing shelter. SHRA is managing the property, although it is now owned by Mercy Housing California.
Ray Gonzalez says he hasn’t received any assistance yet, but is seeing the effects of the renovation. He lives on the fourth floor and said during a recent chat in front of the building that the tap water is coming out in various colors.
"I'm scared to drink the damn water," he said.
That's if there is any water pressure at all. He says the halls are often full of the stench from unflushed toilets, and he worries that exposed walls might allow residents to breathe asbestos.
Those issues and noisy new neighbors, who are fresh off the streets as formerly homeless people, are the problems at the top of Gonzalez’ list upstairs.
Tyrone Roderick Williams is the Director of Development for SHRA. He says complaints about the water are justified.
"The leaks are numerous and when you fix one, because the building is over 100 years old, the pressure that is achieved by fixing one problem creates numerous others," Williams said.
He also says there is asbestos in the building at 9th and L streets, but none of it is exposed. He says the transition has had more problems than anticipated but SHRA is committed to the residents.
"They are all in the process of being offered relocation assistance and financial assistance with that relocation,” he said.
Downstairs the desk in the hotel lobby is closed. But three businesses located under the hotel — Capitol Mini Mart, Capitol Cafe and Henry's Lounge — are still open. Former Capitol Park Hotel owners Ron and Irene Henry owned the businesses that are on the ground floor of the hotel.
Rosie Martinez tends bar. "It's always leaking in here," she said. "The plumbers are working on it upstairs so all the water leaks on the bar."
She says the bar's dumpster is now filled as soon as it's emptied by construction workers, and that bags of trash clog the alley for days. Martinez says when she called the city to complain, she was told trash was the bar’s responsibility even though it now answers to SHRA.
Martinez says things were different not so long ago.
“When the Henrys ran it, of course it had issues,” Martinez said. “It's an old building. But they worked on it right away as opposed to the Capitol Park Hotel ... whoever's running it now, they don't listen to the residents that were already here.”
Irene Henry was filling in at the counter of the Capitol Mini Mart and expressed dismay that the people she refers to as “her residents” were having difficulties.
"(The city) never had an issue with us when we ran the place," Henry said. "And now? They don't know what to do with themselves. They're at a loss."
SHRA’s Williams takes exception to the notion that the hotel was in fine shape when SHRA took control. He says maintenance was lacking for at least a decade and says the number of problems that must be fixed is “numerous.” He also says the temporary shelter is working as hoped.
“More than 25 people who were previously homeless are now calling Capitol Park home,” he said. “They're happy to be there and we're happy to greet them."
And to say goodbye. He says one of the first people to move into the hotel moved out and into her own apartment today.
There will be more goodbyes. The cafe is scheduled to be closed next month. The mini mart and the bar will close next March. The Henry’s have purchased the site of the old Alley Katz bar at 21st and O Streets.