Thoughts From Our Staff: The Ugly Truth About Extended Stay Lodging
Updated: Aug 2
On a hot Saturday in June, Bethel Baptist Church had a “Fun Day” event at a local extended stay hotel. There were several organizations that participated including Florida Impact to End Hunger, Embrace Health and the Christian Service Center’s Winter Park outreach. My friend Megan from St. Margaret Mary’s Lazarus Ministry also attended. Their ministry brings services to surrounding extended stay hotels.
As a Case Manager at our Winter Park campus, I have received many requests for rental assistance from residents at this particular extended stay hotel. To my knowledge, this hotel was in such poor condition that it was assessed to be condemned! Therefore, I have used our United Way funding whenever possible to help tenants at this hotel obtain permanent, sanitary and safe housing. During this Saturday event, I referred a current resident to our HUB and case management services to help move them into permanent housing.
What I and the other service organizations observed was that this local hotel offered very little dignity, and I felt it was unsafe and unsanitary for an extremely high weekly rental rate. In case you weren’t aware, by nature many extended stay hotels are not in the best condition. However, for us (as a community) to continue to allow our most vulnerable neighbors to be taken advantage of I feel is just inhuman. Keep in mind, there are young children residing in this same run-down hotel.
What can we do? We can continue to make ourselves aware of the inhumanity to our brothers and sisters, and most importantly, the children. Reach out by bringing services to give them a hand up. We can’t look the other way and let the children become victims of “out of sight, out of mind.” We can do better.
For example, the first guest to our table at this event was a man named Ennis who uses a walker with wheels. He shared with me that he’s been residing at the hotel for a while hoping to receive permanent housing. Mr. Ennis receives a fixed income via Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). He is paying $250 a week for a unit with a broken air conditioner and he told me his ceiling is falling in. That day, I was able to meet with about ten other residents who fear becoming homeless due to the increased weekly cost to reside in extended stays.
We are called to take care of our poor, our widows and our children. Let us come together to provide hope through realistic and long-term housing solutions.
Connect with Gwenell to learn how you can support her efforts to help those struggling at our Winter Park campus. Visit our Winter Park Campus page or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.