After controversy, Wayside Christian Mission opens Hotel Louisville, serves Thanksgiving dinner

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by Gene Kang

WHAS11.com

Posted on November 26, 2009 at 3:54 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 26 at 4:33 PM

(WHAS11)  Some people call it the new hotel for the homeless.  After some controversy, Wayside Christian Mission took over the Hotel Louisville and turned the grand ballroom into a dining hall for the homeless.
 

It’s a grand Thanksgiving that almost didn’t happen this year, but the Mission is now feeding the homeless in the grand ballroom.
 

Nina Moseley, Wayside Christian Mission said, “It’s set up so elegantly. Even with flowers on the table courtesy of Kentucky Harvest and linens, china, glassware.  It’s totally different from what we’re used to.”
 

More than 100 turkeys, 25 spiral hams and all the fixings donated to these folks.
 

In all, an estimated 25,000 homeless men, women and children will eat a warm meal.
 

Including Anita Foster and her kids; Foster has temporary housing from the cold.  She’s one of roughly 80 homeless people staying at the hotel Louisville.
 

Foster said, “Now we have nice big beds.  We have our own bathroom.  I don’t have to wait in line for a bathroom.  They’re really loving it; especially my oldest daughter because she gets to look at herself in the mirror all four ways... (laughs).”
 

Two weeks ago, Nina Moseley made a controversial move.  Charging homeless guests one penny per night for thirty days.
 

Moseley said they won a fair bid for the hotel for much less than $10 million and they aren’t violating any codes.  “We know there are families out there in cars, campsites and buildings with no utilities. We were really frustrated.”
 

WHAS11 talked to Metro Council earlier this month.  Tom Owen, council member said, “Wayside announces they’re in the hotel business, and they’re going to charge clients a penny a night to stay in the hotel.  Yeah, that seems to me to be an end-run.  It seems to me to be jumping the gun.”
 

For at least one day, it’s a debate that’s put to rest, because on Thanksgiving hundreds of volunteers like Harley and Mackenzie focus on helping the homeless.  Harley Howard, a young volunteer said, “When I look at them I see them as a regular person.  I can’t see if they’re homeless or not.  It’s really amazing to see this.”   And Mackenzie Howard said, “I’ve been doing it for three years.”
 

“What have you learned in those three years?”
 

“That people need help and if you help them, they get really excited.”
 

Nina Moseley said many local shelters are already packed with homeless families because of the economy.
 

She plans on inviting homeless guests to stay at the hotel indefinitely
 

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