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    Housing Solutions Lab
    Thursday, December 01, 2022
     

    ʽThis isn’t living’: Family’s one night stay at motel turned into two years

     
     
    Sabrina Babey talks about her mental health outside her room at the Red Roof Inn in New London on Tuesday, August 9, 2022. She has lived at the motel with her son Mike Roy, fiancé William Waddicor, two dogs and a cat for over two years and they are in the process of being evicted. “I thought this would be a layover; this was never meant to be permanent,” Waddicor said. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Sabrina Babey talks with her son Mike Roy, 18, as their dog Harmony sits outside their room at the Red Roof Inn in New London on Tuesday, August 9, 2022. Babey, Roy and her fiancé William Waddicor have lived at the motel with two dogs and a cat for over two years and they are in the process of being evicted. “I thought this would be a layover; this was never meant to be permanent,” Waddicor said. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    New London ― Among the long-term holdouts facing eviction from the Red Roof Inn are the self-described “Narcan man and the nurse.”

    William Waddicor III, 33, and his fiancee Sabrina Babey, 41, aren’t medically trained, but they said they’ve saved dozens of people over the past two years using the overdose antidote naloxone.

    Babey, whose experience in an actual medical setting comes from her status as a patient rather than a nurse, does her best to treat the symptoms of life at the Red Roof.

    “Someone got stabbed by their girlfriend and I fixed it,” she said. “I put butterfly strips on her.”

    It was a local social services agency – she can’t remember which one – that first directed them to the Red Roof Inn with enough money for a one-night stay after they were kicked out of the house where they lived with a family member. Soon enough, the family and the landlord agreed to a month-to-month lease for $1,100.

    They fell behind in rent several months later, according to the court documents that signaled the beginning of multiple eviction proceedings in the two years they’ve lived at the motel.

    For Babey, all of it has been traumatizing. She’s depressed and anxious in a way she never was before checking in at the front desk for the first time. She’s triggered by the ones who could be saved and the ones who couldn’t, like the neighbor who died of an overdose last week. And as disturbing as it is to watch people suffer, it can be just as painful when they party.

    She said the worst part is the knocking she hears on her door at all hours of the night. Some are looking for drugs. Others ask to buy her body for an hour.

    “This is the equivalent to the Amityville Horror,” she said. “This is the Amityville Horror of New London.”

    Babey described family life in the cramped room: She’s diabetic and asthmatic, with a broken ankle and leg from when she tripped amid the clutter. Her son Michael Roy, who graduated Grasso Technical High School in June, is autistic and prone to outbursts of anger. Waddicor has not worked for the past couple of years and panhandles for alcohol at package stores and gas stations.

    The family currently relies on Babey’s $841 per month disability benefit. Waddicor, who used to be a construction flagger, acts as caretaker for his fiancee. She’s been in the hospital four times since they arrived at the motel, she said.

    The room, which covers less than 300 square feet, has two full sized beds. The lives of the three adults – plus two dogs and a cat – spill out into the 2000 Dodge Caravan parked in front.

    Now, the couple says the air conditioning hasn’t worked all summer. Their microwave broke two months ago and their malfunctioning refrigerator freezes the milk and sandwich meat they keep inside.

    Gulshan Soni, vice president of the motel’s Savinder Hospitality LLC, told a Ledge Light Health District inspector he is only legally obligated to provide tenants with a key to the room, heat and hot water, according to health district reports. He said he does not have to provide housekeeping or products such as toilet paper for people who are not paying.

    Babey, the middle child out of 13 siblings, described growing up with a mom and dad who both owned homes. She lamented she cannot offer that kind of stability to her only son.

    “I grew up the way that you’re supposed to,” she said. “He hasn’t been brought up the way he was supposed to. He shouldn’t have been able to know any of this stuff at age 16.”

    Fifteen of more than 500 police dispatch calls in the logs provided by city police in response to a Freedom of Information request emanated from Babey and Waddicor’s room.

    The couple confirmed two of those calls were for overdoses they said involved a friend invited repeatedly to their room so she wouldn’t have to be by herself while using drugs. They confirmed calls for threats made in situations involving their son. They confirmed attempts by police to serve warrants.

    Court documents show Babey and Waddicor have separate misdemeanor shoplifting arrests pending, with an additional failure to appear charge for Waddicor. He said he didn’t show up at court because the front desk of the motel withheld or sent back mail alerting them to both criminal and housing court dates.

    Two other tenants who were served with eviction papers this year alleged in court filings that the motel either withheld or returned their mail to the sender.

    Soni said those who still live at the motel without paying rent are “troublemakers” united against him.

    “They are lying,” he said. He said he has instituted a new policy that involves guests signing a log when they get their mail to better track what comes and goes.

    A hearing is scheduled for later this month after a legal aid attorney advised Babey to file an injunction to halt the eviction on the grounds that putting her out on the streets would be life threatening because she has diabetes medication that must be refrigerated.

    Yet Babey acknowledged the feeling that staying, too, could be the death of her. She cited her worsening diabetes, which is difficult to control when she can’t afford to eat right. She also spoke of thoughts of suicide that she’s managed to ward off so far because she knows her son needs her around.

    “I literally feel like this place is going to kill me,” she said. “I’m going to die here.”

    Crying from a broken wheelchair in front of the room where she’s not supposed to be, Babey said this isn’t living: “This is just existing.”

    e.regan@theday.com

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