Orange County

Motel families: The hidden homeless?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

As the recession deepens, more and more Southern California families are being forced from their homes. Many are finding shelter by living week to week in older, inexpensive motels.

Room 1203 in an Orange County motel is currently home for the Eldridge Family. Christopher Eldridge, his wife and two kids share the small space.

"This is the first time I've ever been homeless ... in my life," said Christopher.

The Eldridges try to make the motel room feel like home. They have a schedule for the kids, with bedtime at 8:30 p.m. But after one year, it gets rough for any family. Christopher does what he can to feed his kids. He says there are simply no jobs.

"We basically have spent all our funds every month here. We're basically scratching. We go to churches. There's churches that help us a lot and we appreciate their help," said Christopher.

What happened to Christopher is happening to more and more middle-class families in Orange County. They lose their jobs, lose their homes, and motel room is the only place they can stay.

"In Orange County, we have so many laws in our city against no camping, can't live in a park on a park bench so ... our skid row becomes motels," said Jim Palmer, Orange County Rescue Mission.

The Orange County Rescue Mission says it s seeing a huge increase in the number of families asking for help.

"We now have donors and volunteers coming to us asking for food boxes. We've never, in 45 years, seen that before," said Palmer.

There are some concerns about staying in a motel, especially if you have young children living in a place where people constantly move in and out.

"Look where you're going to be moving to make sure that it's a safe area," said Sgt. Rick Martinez, Anaheim Police Department. "If you do move into an area with high occupancy you're probably going to have to just be extra watchful."

Paris Navarro lives in a single room with her husband and daughter. She and her husband have jobs and say it's a struggle, but they will keep fighting.

"You have to do what you have to do until the economy comes back," said Navarro. "I'm not going to give up. I refuse to give up."

Organizations like the Orange County Rescue Mission are helping these families but they sometimes need help themselves.

Click here if you would like information on how to help the Orange County Rescue Mission.


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