On a semi-annual schedule, the county would have inspectors go to the motels unannounced to check on the living conditions, but Albany County Deputy of the Department of Social Services David Kircher said that during their searches, they have limited access to the buildings. The county’s most recent inspection at the Skylane took place in August.
“We do not have the authority to close them down; only the town has the authority to close them down,” said Kircher. “We can stop sending people there.”
County spokeswoman Mary Rozak said the county only had two men staying at the Skylane when the search warrant was issued, and they were moved after the investigation began.
She said they have agreements with other hotels in the area that are used as a last resort when there are no beds available at the city mission, which has 434 beds. In mid-January, the number of people placed in those hotels by the county was six.
Despite the county’s August investigation, the sub-par living conditions at the Skylane revealed in December showed what appeared to be longtime neglect. Walls and ceiling tiles were covered in mold. Outlets had some sort of hardened mystery substance oozing from them and wiring was frequently exposed, among other problems.
“What’s really upsetting to me was that when you went in, it was obvious to me those were long-standing conditions. Those things didn’t happen overnight,” said Maggiulli. “The million-dollar question is, ‘How long has it been going on and why hasn’t it been caught before?’ That’s what has been bothering me. When I saw those conditions in there, no one should have to live like that. It’s a question you should ask the county, and I’m not real happy with some of our guys to be honest with you.”
Colonie Supervisor Paula Mahan said she understands that the county is often put in a difficult position because officials are looking to find shelter for people caught up in the system.