HOLIDAY (FOX 13) - During a human trafficking operation, Pasco County Sheriff's Office task force deputies found a couple living in "uninhabitable" conditions and knew they had to do something to help.
The single-room being rented by the couple was described by sheriff's investigators as "horrific," and they said the couple reported being charged almost $1,000 for one month's rent.
The sheriff's office says people who are homeless or near homeless often resort to living in motels because they do not need a deposit or credit check. Investigators say cheap motels prey upon people in these situations.
They believe that's the case for Ed Hunt and his wife, Kimberly. Detectives met them during an operation to cite adult businesses and motels for human trafficking violations. While at the Crystal Inn on US 19, investigators were drawn to the small space behind the inn when they heard a TV.
Investigators said Ed, who is severely disabled and his wife were surrounded by trash.
Task force members decided they could not leave the couple in that situation. They arranged to come back with help from service providers, including Baycare medical professionals, to get the couple some help. Next Level Church also pitched in to help the couple.
Ed and Kimberly, meanwhile, were thankful for the help but said they thought the price they were charged for the room was too high.
"I thank you all for helping the homeless people," Hunt told the group there to help him. "What [the hotel would] like to charge, their rates and everything, it's wrong."
Pastor Michael Kirk of Next Level Church was with the couple Wednesday and vowed to help them get back on their feet at a price they could afford.
"Let's find these people a safe comfortable clean place to live so he can get healthy and they can get back on track," Pastor Kirk told FOX 13 News.
The owner of Crystal Inn, Dinesh Patel said he was going to move Ed and Kimberly to another room or refund a portion of what they paid. Kimberly, however, said the owner's wife offered to move them to another room but requested they pay more.
The Pasco County Sheriff's Office said it would cite the motel owners.
"We certainly have a dim view of those who would exploit the vulnerabilities of our weakest citizens," Pasco Sheriff's Office Cpl. Alan Wilkett said.