ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- An investigation into prostitution uncovers a serious safety issue at a Rockford motel.
“Woke up and heard police knocking at my door saying that everybody needed to leave the building,” said Michael Keblock a guest at the motel.
“I feel upset. I mean I’ve been here a year and a half…I’m homeless…this is where I live. I have nowhere to go…I have no family,” said Lisa Lingafelter who had been living at the motel for over a year.
The situation was so dangerous at the Sweden House Lodge, the City of Rockford said they had to get everyone out.
“I’m frustrated…I’m angry…I’m upset…I don’t know what to think, you know?” said Donna Dahl, another guest at the Sweden House Lodge.
City inspectors were called to the motel after a series of complaints on its cleanliness and condition. What they found, could have been life threatening. They say the building’s gas pipes weren’t properly sealed, which could’ve caused it to explode. Tenants could have been poisoned by carbon monozide, due to mechanical equipment incorrectly exhausting.
43 units were occupied at the time. People staying in 18 of them are getting help finding new housing from the City.
“Because the property has been condemned and there aren’t occupants residing within it, it would not require him to take immediate action so he can complete a full assessment on his own,” said Director of Community and Economic Developmet, Todd Cagnoni.
We tried speaking with the motel’s manager, but he refused to comment. The city says once he gets the building back up to code, and passes inspection, it could open back up to the public
Rockford police say an investigation into prostitution is what prompted the inspection. Detectives were monitoring a website that links prostitutes with Johns, when they started noticing a lot of people complaining about the cleanliness of the Sweden House. The motel has 100 rooms and typically charges about $40 a night. From a look at various review websites, it had very poor ratings.
ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- It's one of the cheapest and lowest rated hotels in Rockford, with a reputation for allowing criminal behavior. We've learned the city has condemned the Sweden House Lodge.
The problems at the Sweden House Lodge are so severe the City of Rockford felt they had no choice but to shut it down immediately. Inspectors say conditions put the motel at risk for exploding and possibly poisoning the people staying inside with carbon monoxide.
The city says they've been receiving complaints for years over the facility's cleanliness and condition. When they came to check it out, they found several serious safety code violations, including bad plumbing, the gas piping not being sealed and mechanical equipment not properly being exhausted. This means there was no way for carbon monoxide to exit the building. The Director of Community and Economic Development says when his team showed up, there was a contractor working on the plumbing, but without a license. He said those workers ran off once they showed up, compounding the problem. For the people staying here, they're left wondering what's next.
About half the 100-room motel was occupied when the city condemned the building, so they were all kicked out. The Department of Human Services will help people staying in 18 units find new temporary housing. We did reach out to the manager, but didn't hear back.
As far as reopening the motel, the City says that's up to the owner. They must fix all of the problems and be inspected, before they can open to the public. Below are some recent reviews from the popular travel site Trip Advisor:
Jeztine called her stay the "absolute worst hotel experience. Please don't waste your money." and Rhys says he had to deal with "cigarette burns in the sheets, tiles missing from the bathroom floor, paint in the bathtub."
Out of 28 reviewers, 21 ranked the hotel as "terrible" and another 5 considered it "poor."