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OC’s Motel Residents

The New York Times has a front page story on the huge numbers of families impacted by the sour Bush economic practices now forced into living in area motels in Cotsa Mesa and Anaheim.

Photo, courtesy of NY Times:

Living in Motels, the Hidden Homeless

It’s a heartbreaking read, especially when you get to the part where school children taunt kids of these impacted families who, by no fault of their own, don’t have the means to even rent an apartment and have to rely on charities to make ends meet.

The story suggests that while many families could afford rent, its that security deposit and huge outlay of cash that’s the hinderance.

From the story:

The Hayworths tried staying with relatives but ended up last September at the Costa Mesa Motor Inn, one of more than 1,000 families estimated to be living in motels in Orange County alone. They are among a lucky few: a charity pays part of the $800-a-month charge while Mr. Hayworth tries to recreate a career.

The family, which includes a 15-year-old daughter, shares a single room and sleeps on two beds. With most possessions in storage, they eat in two shifts, on three borrowed plates — all that one jammed cabinet can hold. His wife, Terri, has health problems and, like many other families, they cannot muster the security deposit and other upfront costs of renting a new place.

Motel families exist by the hundreds in Denver, along freeway-bypassed Route 1 on the Eastern Seaboard, and in other cities from Chattanooga, Tenn., to Portland, Ore. But they are especially prevalent in Orange County, which has high rents, a shortage of public housing and a surplus of older motels that once housed Disneyland visitors.

“The motels have become the de facto low-income housing of Orange County,” said Wally Gonzales, director of Project Dignity, one of dozens of small charities and church groups that have emerged to assist families, usually helping a few dozen each and relying on donations of food, clothing and toys.