Imani Jones and her pregnant fiancee, Montrese Fletcher, felt hopeful when they moved their growing family to Siena Suites on Boulder Highway in July.
The two had met earlier that year while working at a Wendy’s fast food restaurant. Jones, 23, had just given birth to her son, Jay’zon. Fletcher, then 19, was pregnant.
Separately, the two young women were struggling to make rent. But together they realized soon after meeting that they could provide more for their children.
Now, as Jones signed a rental agreement in the lobby of the extended-stay motel, she felt she was keeping her promise to give her son a better life, even if it was only for a week at a time. .
But the luster of the family’s new home quickly faded.
Inside their apartment, there were cockroaches everywhere, Jones said. They frequently spotted the police in the compound, but were still worried about crime.
“I have a really bad stomach ache,” Fletcher said. “I didn’t pay that much money to live like this.”
Like Jones and Fletcher, other residents were also raising families at Siena Suites. On weekdays, school buses could be seen transporting children to and from the complex.
A woman, who declined to be named for fear of eviction, slipped a cigarette outside her second-floor unit one autumn afternoon as a baby was crying inside. She too was unhappy living at the motel.
“A lot of cops here. Just look at the reviews of this place,” she mumbled as she breathed out.
Nearly 1,200 patrols in 2021
Last year, the Metropolitan Police Department recorded nearly 1,200 patrols at Siena Suites and responded to nearly 900 other calls for service, according to a Review-Journal analysis of law enforcement records.
Of the hundreds of motels and apartments in Metro’s jurisdiction, the 600-unit complex is among the most visited by police since 2017.
Some residents, like Latoya Roper, said the frequent police presence makes the motel safer.
“They just make sure everything is okay,” she said.
The sprawling 14-acre property sits between the freeway and a public park. Tenants live in one- and two-bedroom apartments spread across more than a dozen three-story buildings.
To better understand living conditions at the resort, a Review-Journal reporting team rented a furnished one-bedroom unit with a kitchenette for a week in October. The unit had cockroaches, but the appliances worked and it was tidy.
On the day of check-in, a line of people started to form outside the motel before the reception opened at 8am.
The property’s few vacancies have been filled after just three check-ins. The weekly rate came out to $450 after fees and taxes.
“Every morning is like Black Friday,” remarks a receptionist.
The Siena Suites rental agreement repeatedly stipulated that illegal activity would be reported to the police and result in eviction, and that potential tenants would be subject to criminal background checks for active warrants.
Guests not registered with the front desk had to be accompanied by a renter at all times, and check-in was mandatory for all guests staying longer than 24 hours. Anyone caught trespassing would be subject to arrest, the documents said, and tenants were given instructions on how to contact a 24-hour private security force for “any non-security issues.” urgent”.
Reporters did not see management or security guards enforcing the lease’s ban on “loitering” on stairs, parking lots, sidewalks and in front of resort units. The teenagers hung out in parked cars, while other tenants sat outside on folding chairs or in stairwells, chain-smoking.
One Friday night at Siena Suites, the kids played on the sidewalks until dark. The adults stayed outside longer, huddled in small groups as they talked and drank.
The complex became quieter as the clock approached midnight. A man wearing a black backpack rode a small bicycle in circles in the early hours of the morning, stopping occasionally when people approached him in the parking lot. A subway patrol car passed through the complex minutes before 12:30 p.m., but records show officers did not record the short trip as a patrol.
Cars entered and exited the property unhindered at all hours, with no visible effort to enforce the signs stating that only tenants were allowed on the property after 10 p.m.
A uniformed security guard patrolling the property on foot several nights during the week was often seen focused on his cellphone screen and wearing large headphones.
“When this is noticed, we know the security presence will not be taken seriously,” said Kathy Cassell, retired Metro crime prevention specialist.
During a drive-through tour of Siena Suites with the Review-Journal, Cassell highlighted what she thinks the resort is doing well and where it could improve.
She said the property was well maintained and had little foliage for someone to hide in, both deterrents to crime.
But she also noted that much of the complex’s exterior had no fence or a wall that was only chest-high, making it easier for people on foot to come and go. unseen by security.
While some residents like Jones and Fletcher felt unsafe, others said they weren’t worried.
Geir Brose, 50, said he enjoyed seeing police patrolling the complex, but also planned to install his own CCTV for added security. He has lived in extended-stay motels for most of the past decade.
“It’s no worse than the other places I’ve lived,” he said. “You just have to stay to yourself. If there is a drama, then it is their drama.
Fletcher gave birth to her daughter, Jour’nee, in December.
Police records show Fletcher was arrested for a misdemeanor domestic battery earlier this month after an argument between her and Jones allegedly turned physical.
In an interview, Jones said Fletcher did not hit her. The couple have reconciled and are still engaged, she said.
They seek to find a new home for their children, even if it means leaving Nevada.
“I just want a roof over our heads where we don’t have to worry about cockroaches crawling all over us,” she said.