Skip to main content

The Motel Crush in Homeless World, Sacramento

Homeless people have an interesting relationship with Sacramento (city & county) hotels. Families that have lost their housing, or families that have broken apart – leaving a suddenly-single parent in need of quickly finding housing for her/his-self and the children – use local motels as stopgap solutions and if local government makes a voucher available, an anxious parent can hope to get a motel room for a long stay.

The Sacramento-area hotels in a motel-coupon publication.
A great many homeless men who have disability income use cheap hotels as places to bring a woman and to party and alter their minds with alcohol and other substances. I understand these disability checks commonly come on the first and fifteenth day of the month. When that happens, the morning count of those eager to get into Loaves & Fishes falls off precipitously.

Other people, surfing in the gray space between housed and homeless – who are, say, new at a job or at getting Social Security or just got a lump pension payment – might alternate between shelters and motels while they try to get themselves into a secure housing situation.

But nowadays, everything is topsy-turvy. Golden One Arena is the spark that has sent matters roiling. Construction of the Arena is progressing at a fast pace. As well, street construction and rail for RT needs to be laid in preparation for events at the Arena beginning this fall. Beyond this, an area that extends beyond downtown and the Grid, has plots of land where construction is in the planning stage or underway. Likewise, construction is advancing furiously at a large hotel just north of the Arena, on J Street.

All this construction activity has filled motel and hotels with construction workers through-out our metropolis and has near-fully depleted the availability of unoccupied rooms. And when rooms are available the nightly expense for a room is twice what it was thirty months ago. It’s a sellers’ market.
For a two year period, ending in February, I had a fair deal staying in a room in West Sacramento. For most of that time, I was paying $175 per week, all taxes included, which works out to $25/day.

All motel/hotel rooms aren’t equivalently nice, of course, and the motel where I was staying in West Sac wasn’t the luxury equivalent of most of the hotels pictured in the ad from the HotelCoupons booklet, above, but from my experience I would say that my claim that the price for a motel room has roughly doubled in 30 month is pretty accurate.

For a poor person, the difference in paying $50/day for a motel room as opposed to $25/day is daunting. It pushes people to the street.

I have no complaint with the motels' managers. Theirs is a rough business. Motels may be experiencing good times, currently, that they are eager to take full advantage of by reaping splendid profits – but the local economy will do what it always does, turn right around at some point and make things difficult for them. Capitalism guarantees that matters move from still waters to stormy seas and back again. All this up and down pricing, with potential customers weighing in on finding what motels please them most, serves to find the best price.

BUT, there is an extra problem that has entered the mix. At check-in time, without any warning when you book a room, motels now will ask for a deposit [usually in the amount of $100] to cover any damage that is done to a room. This deposit is not required of everyone at every motel; sometimes just customers that the front-desk person chooses to impose this fee (that is refundable if there is no damage assessment).

This possible-damage assessment may come in several ways. One means of getting a deposit on possible damage I see is that the motel tells you they will charge your "charge card" that they have all the information on if damage occurs. Use of debit cards is then not allowed at some motels for this possible-damage charge.

If it were easy to tell when someone staying at a motel had done damage to a room, I would have sympathy for the new "damage" fee, but this is not something easy. Rooms I have stayed in at Crossland in Rancho Cordova; Good Night Inn in Sacramento; Vagabond Hotel in Sacramento and Red Roof Inn in Rancho all had a few "problems," usually marred furniture or drawers that wouldn't open or close properly. There have also been lamps that were non-functional; cigarette burns on the floors, carpets, bedding and walls, and stains on the wallpaper. These are all instances of pre-existing damage that someone staying in a room might be required to pay for under these new "rules" that motels and hotels have started assessing in concert in the Sacramento area. An agreement that you sign when you are given a room requires that you accept the motel's assessment that there is damage and the dollar-value of the damage that your are charged for.

If this potential damage fee is mainly just a ruse to get people staying at motels to treat the room tenderly such that they don't damage rooms, I'm all for it! I do recognize that the damage I see in motel rooms all comes from maniacs who stay in rooms and cause a mountain of mess.

But since motel rooms are seldom pristine, I think this damage-fee thing has the potential of being a means for motels to charge poor or ungainly people that the motels don't want as a way of suggesting these people take a room somewhere else in the future.


Agent X said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Popular posts from this blog

More Homeless Hate from Marcos Breton

There was a long spell a handful of years ago when Marcos Breton said something so fully ridiculous in one of his hateful screeds against homeless folk that it appeared to be very apparent he had been taken off the Homeless Beat by his superiors. Unhappily, after a few months, Breton was again writing disparaging columns about homeless folk

In today's Bee [3/5/17], Breton has written one of his longest columns. Online, it is titled "The price downtown Sacramento is paying for Mayor Steinberg’s homeless crusade
Read more here: It goes on for days. The message, essentially, is this: Homeless people poop; they're getting a great deal of what they want from the overmuch-helpful mayor; and business people proximate to Chavez Park are made miserable by the forever-disgusting homeless that are there in great number.

O.K. Let's get into all this a bit. Except in Breton's mind, homeless pe…

The first-person dimension of homeless Sacramentans suffering from Schizophrenia

"Disabilities and dysfunction process from having been shunned and denied access to needed opportunitites and networks of support."
~ the brothers Lysaker in Schizophrenia and the Fate of the Self What is schizophrenia? How many are homeless Sacramentans?

Perhaps 15% of the Sacramento homeless population suffers from schizophrenia. The percentage is difficult to determine for many reasons that branch from both the fuzzy definition of the malady and that many people within the homeless community who have the illness (1) are in denial and are undiagnosed and (2) have the illness as a diagnosis only – the disability can be faked by people who are successful claimants of social security and other benefits.

What is schizophrenia? One webspace gives us this definition: The most chronic and disabling of the severe mental disorders. Typically develops in the late teens or early twenties. The overt symptoms are hallucinations (hearing voices, seeing visions), delusions (false beliefs ab…

Homelessness and Remembrance

This is a follow-up on the matter of remembering homeless people who have died and the Wall that Libby Fernandez wants to build in remembrance of the deceased. [See earlier blogpost "Tell Libby NOT to build her wall."]

This blogpost is prompted by a Philosophy Bites podcast released in the last couple days -- titled "C├ęcile Fabre on Remembrance." Fabre's take on why we honor or grieve for certain individuals or certain collections of individuals is not greatly helpful -- since his focus is mainly one of fallen war heroes and war casualties -- but it does open up the issue of why should there be a remembrance effort for deceased homeless people at all. Who is served by it? And has the effort been perverted by the avarice of charities in their insatiable drive for donations.

It is, for starters, a curious thing for "homeless people" to be a collective that is honored. I write that NOT because I don't want the best for homeless people. But, homelessn…