Surviving Hard Times Part I: Living In A Hotel
The economic downturn has hit everybody differently: lost jobs, lost homes, demotions, etc. And now with Superstorm Sandy, trying to live a normal life is even more difficult. Some are able to rely on other resources, such as friends and/or family to help them through these difficult times. Then, you have those who aren't has fortunate. They don't have anybody who can assist them. Add the possibility of homelessness and you're facing a nightmare scenario most people cannot begin to imagine. So, where do you turn? How to you keep a roof over your head? For me, my only option was to stay in a hotel.
The Lesser of All Evils
Never in a million year would I have thought that I'd end up staying in a shady part of town at a 4-hour minimum, hump-and-dump motel that sat underneath a major highway (see photo on right). But, in December 2008 that's exactly what happened and where I was staying was the "best" thing I could find! I paid roughly $980 a month for three months. All the while, I hid my situation from my family, who thought that I was living with a co-worker/roommate. I survived on one to two meals a day, and continued to pay bills like storage, cell phones, and car insurance. I went to work like nothing was wrong, meanwhile I secretly asked if anybody had a couch or a room to spare. Even a basement floor was preferable to what I had to endure. Every night the local police showed up looking for a suspect or breaking up a disturbance. One night shots rang out from a nearby neighborhood and the cops came storming the area. I cried almost every night. I barely made enough money to stay there, so trying to get an apartment was damn near impossible. So, in March 2009, after searching for three months on Craigslist, I finally found another place to live...another hotel.
A Step Up But Still Down and Out
I ended up moving to one of those long-term residential hotels on the Jersey Shore. It was definitely better because now I had a place to cook and eat like a normal human being. I could also store things and make it more like a home and not feel so much like a refugee. But, at the end of the day, it's still a hotel. I'm still subject to fluctuating day rates and policy changes without any notice. Where I am pets are allowed, so ocassionally there's the barking dog and poop that lays in the hallway as well as outside in the parking lot. I have no rights as a tenant althrough, per the state of New Jersey, this is my permanent residence. I have a bill, not a lease, so at any moment I can be asked to leave for no other reason than that Management wants me gone. However, you'd think that after three years (Yes, I'm still living there!) of paying diligently and that Management is having a problem generating new business that they wouldn't be so stupid as to toss me out. But, stupid people are in charge of things everyday so that is not a guarantee. I've been working diligently to save up money to move. During my time here, I have been through several garnishments on my paycheck, my partner has lost his job and I have been socked by medical and health issues.
But, I'm still working my way back to a "normal" existence. I will have a real home one day. And for all that has happened, I am stronger emotionally and mentally.
I will triumph.
(Update 10/25/12) Extended Stay has gone through a complete renovation, so now my accommodations are like the pictures above. I'm still looking for a private landlord to rent from as this not the most stable of living conditions, but I'm not completely homeless.
(Update 12/11/12) Superstorm Sandy has completely devastated the Jersey shore area and now apartments are hard to come by as everybody who lost their home is snagging up apartments. Right now, I'm saving up money and maybe come Spring 2013 I'll finally be lucky.
Stay tuned for further updates!!