Last week, I posted about a photo series by Nadia Shira Cohen and Paulo Siqueira called “Motel America,” a project showing families in Florida who’ve lost their homes and ended up living in motels. Monica Potts has a feature story in The American Prospect that takes a look at families living in a Ramada in Denver’s suburbs. The families are known as “Weeklies” because they pay for their stay by the week instead of by the day to get a discount. Most of the people ended up living in the hotels after the housing crash caused them to lose their homes:
Two years after Bonnie’s father died, she became ill and left the job she’d been working for 15 years at a local elementary school. She didn’t rush back to work, because the loss of her job alone wasn’t financially devastating. The landscaping business had been a steady source of income. Until it wasn’t. As the recession began, some customers started cutting back on services or taking longer to settle bills. Bonnie and Andy began to feel the crunch in 2007. “Our customers didn’t want to pay us because it was hitting them, too. That’s how we got behind, because we couldn’t get our money,” Bonnie says. “That’s where you lose, when you don’t get paid. You put out gas, you put out for the equipment and your time, and you get nothing for it.”
The weekly rate is $210 for individuals and “slightly more for families,” and one of the reasons so many families end up in motels is because there aren’t very many apartment rental options available—at least not enough in the suburbs where people are used to living in houses. Bonnie and Andy said they would have considered living in their car if not for their 14-year-old son, Drew. They were afraid Drew’s schoolmates would have picked on him if they discovered he was homeless.