Borderline Homelessness Motel Residents
There are many levels of what is considered to be homelessness. As well, just as many ways of getting there. And huge, often insurmountable, ways to get out of the homeless situation.
Perhaps you only think of the homeless as those visibly seen on the streets. Sleeping over top of grates, snuggled under torn sleeping bags or beneath cardboard boxes. Yes, that is one scenario of homelessness. Probably the most vividly visible.
Then there are those who have only been able to hold onto their car. It is not only their primary possession, it is their primary home. But there are bylaws did you know. Ones, including our own community, that denies a person the right to live in their vehicle if that is all they have left.
And have you ever noticed tents and camper trailers showing up in some backyards during the summer months? Sure, sometimes it is just innocent children camping out in the big brave backyard. It could even be family from out of town coming for a prolonged visit or vacation.
However, there are times when it is a homelessness issue. And all a friend or family member can offer in assistance is the backyard to sleep in. The hosts share bathroom and kitchen access, but there just are not enough beds inside. Community bylaws prohibit this too—so don’t get caught.
In all of these previous examples, Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs helps out with sleeping bags and tents whenever possible. Most years the needs far outweigh the supply.
There are 2 types of “homeless” Motel Residents.
- Recipients of Emergency Motel Vouchers
- Semi-permanent residents
1. Emergency Motel Vouchers
You may have heard of Emergency Motel Vouchers. These are strictly controlled by local government social services agencies. Dispersal rules and direct contact information in our region are unclear.
We are front line workers, and we don’t even know how to direct the homeless clients we encounter to access these Emergency Motel Vouchers. Especially on weekends and in the evenings when the services are most needed.
Although a quick patch in a homelessness situation, it is also,
- Very unnerving
- totally insecure
- unable to sleep soundly at the threat of being homeless again tomorrow
- yes, you can have an opportunity to clean up and have a shower
- still can’t cook and eat a proper meal
- can’t unpack, because check out time is in the morning—don’t sleep in
I, personally, having been homeless for a time in my 20’s understand those feelings. Someone did pay for me to stay in a motel room for a night. After tossing and turning, I got up in the middle of the night, had a shower, and returned to the streets. Strangely, the streets felt safer. If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, you know exactly what I mean.
There is NO security in an Emergency Motel Voucher. A Voucher is usually only good for 1-3 nights, however, sometimes a total of 14 days might be secured. That is only when the issuing agency has bright prospects to find a client more permanent housing quickly.
However, as many geared to income housing complexes in our region have a waiting list of 5-10 years, the 14 day voucher system happens rarely. Because there is no housing solution.
Often you can ask for this emergency motel voucher only once per year too.
2. Semi-permanent Motel Residents
However, there is another group of borderline homeless that you may not have considered. These are those people living week to week in motel rooms, hotel rooms, or possibly cabins. The later residence which can often be poorly insulated, being quite cold in the winter months.
I’m referring to this group as borderline homeless. However, in the definition of homeless, local Social Services agencies fully define these semi-permanent residents as “homeless”.
You’ve heard of the housing shortage. Well, it is real. You’ve saved for an apartment, first and last, however, there are none to be found. So you check into a motel until you can find one. Anything to keep from being fully homeless.
Many of these motel rooms may have a mini fridge, kettle, or coffee maker and a microwave. However, due to insurance, building code and fire regulations you are not permitted to cook actual meals.
As a result, your health starts to deteriorate. A high carb, fast-food lifestyle is not only expensive and eats away at your future proper rental money, it affects your health too. Suddenly, you are tired all the time, your brain feels like it is in a fog, you can’t sleep properly, you are irritated, and much more.
We at Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs know many such people, just like you, living like this. We can give microwaveable dishes, and extra towels, blankets, and sheet but our services are limited.
The Struggles and Challenges of Living in a Motel
There are a number of other struggles and challenges that come from living in a motel room. As residents of motel rooms, the home security doesn’t exist under the same rules as the Landlord / Tenant Act. There is huge probability that eviction can easily occur on any day or week.
Many of these Motels only offer Seasonal Residence opportunities. Motels that will rent out units to people in need of housing from November to May annually. Come spring, also comes the tourist season. Therefore, the semi-permanent winter residents are evicted to make room for the more desirable summer visitors.
Unfortunately, this forces people out into the streets to live.
Other problems that come with living in a motel include:
- inability to make proper meals
- resulting in decreased health
- increased cost of eating by resorting to microwave or take-out meals
- lack of security by not feeling at home, and being confined to primarily just a bedroom
- the expense of room rental hinders the ability to financially save the funds necessary to pay first and last months rent for proper accommodation
- renting a motel room can be as expensive as or more expensive than renting a proper apartment
- no chance to get ahead financially
- suddenly after 3 months or more of living this way, you are financially more insecure than on the day you moved in. You have less money because living in a motel is more expensive than renting an actual apartment.
How Can The Issue Of Homelessness Be Better Addressed?
I don’t know. However, I hope that this article will help get you thinking about it more. There have to be better solutions to homelessness in our communities.
It might make a community feel better to know that Emergency Motel Vouchers are being issued, but did you stop to think about what happens to that person tomorrow?
And the Semi-permanent Motel Residents, have no dignity of home either.
Proper accommodations, even temporary of 6 months to a year, need to be found to help guide our most vulnerable towards better, more permanent housing solutions.
Something needs to be done to allow people an opportunity to have not just a bed, and a shower, but proper meals too. An opportunity to access resources that help to EMPOWER them towards a HOPE and a FUTURE.
How can we all work together to help them better, while helping to maintain their dignity, and self-esteem?
Many are not looking for a program or service to come and take over their lives, but rather to put the information and resources in front of them. In this manner, these vulnerable persons are able to make direct, more positive decisions, regarding their own lives. That is EMPOWERMENT, that is HOPE, that is a FUTURE.
Unfortunately, solutions will not come over night. But solutions do need to be found, sooner than later.
So, the issue of homelessness is huge, and doesn’t just include the most visible that are living and sleeping in the streets. It also includes the borderline homelessness motel residents too.