The end of Season One of Gold Rush Alaska and the beginning of Season Two were both excruciating. We watched Jack Hoffman dig and dig and dig for glory in the same deep hole, only to have to walk away right when it looked like he was on the gold. . . . twice! Now it looks like Jack may have been digging gold out of another kind of hole; but this time I’m afraid the story isn’t nearly as inspirational.
Todd Hoffman is quick to tell the cameras that he and the other rookie miners looking to strike it rich on Gold Rush: Alaska are refugees from the Great American Recession. Their choice was to sit at home and draw unemployment or take their chances as miners in Alaska (and the Yukon). A deep part of the mythology of the show is that the troubled American economy has driven good, hard-working men to desperate measures in their attempt to support their families. So, it isn’t news to learn that the Hoffmans know something about financial hardship.
As it turns out, though, Todd’s father, Jack Hoffman, has a different kind of direct experience with slums and poverty. Jack and his wife Georgia Hoffman (Todd’s mom) don’t live in sub-standard housing projects – they own them. As crazy as it might sound, it appears that the Hoffmans were (are?) slumlords. I wonder why that backstory didn’t come out with Christo Doyle’s hard-hitting aftershow interviews? Hmmmm…
^ Georgia Hoffman and Jack Hoffman when they were newlyweds
According to this 2004 story in the Willamette Weekly, the Hoffmans were the owners and managers of The All States Motel in Portland, Oregon. The All States Motel, and others like it, used a legal loophole to operate virtually outside the law. By requiring residents to leave for one day every month, the owners of these “no tell motels” are able to keep their residents from qualifying for the full protection of Oregon’s landlord-tenant act, which requires a tenant rent for more than 30 days consecutively.
In case you think calling the All States Motel a “slum” is too strong, take stock of a few of its “amenities” as described in the 2004 Willamette Weekly exposé:
Some of the units at All States have roofs that come complete with a garden–of moss, several inches thick in some spots. The landlord, Georgia Hoffman, has draped plastic sheets over many of the roofs–her answer to tenants’ complaints about water pouring in. There aren’t any gutters or downspouts to redirect the water, either.
At other units, doors sag on their hinges, windows are either cracked or boarded up, and the stench of feces and urine wafts past. Rusted-out and busted-up autos and piles of unidentifiable junk complete the external environment of All States Motel.
These dilapidated conditions didn’t go unnoticed by government officials, though.
The city of Portland has inspected All States Motel on several occasions and found it in violation of city code. In fact, as recently as April 2003, inspector McKee filled 12 pages of his report citing hundreds of violations, included everything from broken windows and damaged downspouts to cockroach infestations, holes in the kitchen floor, leaky roofs and a toilet “not adequately secured to the floor.”
Since 1994, the city has levied fines in excess of $70,961 against All States for failing to make the necessary repairs. “That’s a big number,” says city collections supervisor Frank DuFay. “They’ve never paid a dime.”
Georgia Hoffman concedes that few of the violations have been fixed.
McKee says that the units would have to pose an immediate life-threatening condition for the city to take stronger measures, such as forcing the owner to move all the tenants out. He says he hasn’t thought All States merited such an extreme step.
The city did tell the Hoffmans after its last inspection that if any of their units were vacated, they could not be occupied again until the code violations were addressed. However, an inspection of Muggli’s unit was done in the spring of 2003, at least eight months before she moved in. The violations cited in the report are still visible, yet there she is.
A 2003 inspection reportedly yielded 12 pages of hundreds of violations.
Here’s a old postcard image of the All States before it degenerated to slum status:
But, leave it too a Hoffman to spin the slumlord’s role in an unexpected direction. In the story, Mrs. Hoffman is quoted as saying, “All States is the worst motel around. . . . I know I should just tear it down, and I will eventually. But I just can’t bring myself to do it until there’s a place for all those people to go. I don’t know where else they can afford to live if I throw them out.”
When I pulled up the address of the All States Motel (11814 NE Sandy Blvd.) on Google Maps it appears that Georgia Hoffman was able to eventually achieve her goal of tearing it down because now there appears to only be a parking lot. (Three other older hotels are within a block radius, so the location appears to be right.)
In a follow up story, Mrs. Hoffman is reported to have said that she could not afford to fix the motel’s problems, also she was also reported to own (with Jack, presumably) a $700,000 home in Molalla, Oregon. Based on the quotation above, though, Mrs. Hoffman doesn’t say that she couldn’t afford to fix the motel, but that she planned to tear the place down as soon as she could face the trauma of putting its residents out.
Georgia’s noble concerns for her residents seem a little less noble when you consider the All States Motel was bringing in an estimated $150,000 a year in revenue for the Hoffmans.Oh, and in another 2004 story in the same series, Mrs. Hoffman is said to own several “no-tell motels in Portland and an apartment building in Gresham.”
And, yes, it really appears that the Hoffmans of the All States Motel are, indeed, “our” Hoffmans of Discovery Channel fame. The “Gold Rush Alaska Gossip” Facebook page managed to track down and scan a copy of one of Jack Hoffman’s Alaska mining claims on which he listed the address of the All States Motel as his home address. Not such a good move, Jack. There’s no glory in that hole.
One of the perennial criticisms of Gold Rush Alaska is that the show talks about the financial situation of the Hoffmans and the other miners without acknowledging the paychecks that they’re getting from the Discovery Channel for the show. But, Jack Hoffman better be making some green for his time on the show. It is hard to tell what has happened to the All States Motel in the eight years since these newspaper stories appeared, but current tax records for the Hoffman’s Sandy River Airport indicate that Jack currently owes close to $60k in back taxes, alone. CLICK HERE and type in the address of the airport, 42313 SE ORAL HULL ROAD, to see for yourself.