Monday, February 9, 2009

Welfare Hotels

Another quote from "Shattered Bonds": "Baden also admitted that in two cases he initially concluded, without autopsies, that two residents of a welfare hotel had died of chronic alcoholism. But after a man confessed to smothering them, he exhumed the body of one and found signs of asphyxiation...but he changed the cause of death primarily because of the confession."

It was not until I was off the streets in 2005 that I learned a SRO was a Single Residency Occupancy building. I had heard from many homeless people on the streets about such "welfare hotels" in Los Angeles. When I walk to the Brewitt library I pass the Park Hotel in Long Beach. I remember when I went there trying to rent a room. I was working but could not stay at my nephew's apartment due to problems he and his wife were having. I was looking for an affordable apartment on weekends and ended up staying at the Monterey motel for 6 weeks.

Living in Long Beach since 1994, I often saw ads for places like the Park Hotel. Cheap weekly or month to month rentals. The man at the Park Hotel did not think I should live there. The rooms had no bathrooms, just a shared one on each floor. He quoted a price that was much higher than advertised in the newspaper to discourage me from filling out the application. I tried a similar hotel downtown and was told they only rent to men. Both places might have been considered welfare hotels. For some Long Beach homeless those places were the last stop before homelessness. Or a weeks respite from the streets.

Around the corner from where I now live is another such hotel, only the rooms have bathrooms. I tried to get a room there in 2005, but the place was always full. The woman I spoke to there told me I should check back often. Homeless checked in and out often, but most were long time residents living monthly check to monthly check. some were working homeless. To myself and others, getting a room like that was the first step to finding a job. It might not be grand living quarters, but at least one had the luxury of a bed and a place to leave backpacks while applying for jobs.

Many of Long Beach's cheap motels have been remodeled with price increases that prohibit "welfare" homeless or those on Social Security disability payments to get off the streets for at least a week. Yet I never heard these places referred to as "welfare hotels". 11/1/08

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