On Your Side: Up close with a motel inspection team

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Washoe County Health District spokesman Phil Ulibarri shared a video with News 4 showing a recent inspection of a downtown Reno motel.

The Health District declined News 4's request to go along on an inspection but did agree to share the video with us.

The video shows city code enforcement teams and county health inspectors going door-to-door inside the property, checking things off their list. A Reno police officer is also close by, just in case there's a problem.

The visit is thorough. Inspectors focus on things like broken door jambs and light fixtures that need repairs. Door locks on individual rooms also get put to the test to ensure that residents have not only privacy but security as well.

These inspections take place once a year, or whenever a complaint is filed.

"If we get a complaint, we're going to go out and inspect," Ulibarri told our On Your Side team.

Back in October, News 4 uncovered that 25 rooms at the Ponderosa Hotel in Midtown Reno had been shut down because of various code violations. Most of those violations were corrected by the property owner.

According to Ulibarri, county health officials conducted two separate inspections to verify that the violations had been corrected.

"Of those 25 rooms the majority of them were taken care of to our specifications," he said.

Some Ponderosa tenants like Steve Hamill say they've had enough. Hamill was checking out the day we caught up with him.

He says ten days at the Ponderosa was all he could take.

"Let me tell you it's the filthiest stay I've ever had," Hamill said. "I've never seen more cockroaches."

Hamill says he was homeless before he checked into the Ponderosa and he says he might go back to living on the streets now.

"I don't know, the next warm place I can find," he told us. "This is embarrassing. Born and raised here. Anyway, that's the way it is right now."

The conditions inside may be far from ideal -- but code enforcement officers and health officials are on a constant mission to ensure that these properties are at the very least, safe.

Because for some it's either live here, or live on the streets.

Ulibarri says the Health District is doing its best to make sure these properties can stay in business and provide housing to those who need it.

"I may not prefer to live in that property, and you may not prefer to live in that property, but some people do," he said.

News 4 did reach out to the owner of the Ponderosa Hotel for comment. He says it is a constant battle to keep the place livable but, he says, he does his best. Again, all of the rooms that are in use do meet current safety and health requirements. If they don't, they will be shut down until the problems get fixed.

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