Last week, the residents of Quality Inn motel found a notice on their doors saying the hotel is closing on September 16th, 2022 and that all residents must be out by that date. This hotel has housed houseless people as a “protective action” hotel through federal funding since early COVID days. Protective action hotels are reserved for people at high-risk of COVID health effects due to severe health issues. Residents of these hotels were told this would be a pathway for connection to housing, but instead the hotel is closing and high-risk residents are being kicked to the streets and shelters with nowhere to go.
Residents of Quality Inn are not going to stand for this. Many residents will be speaking to City Council on Monday August 29th at 5pm followed by a press conference outside City Hall at 5:30pm. There they will voice their demands for 1) housing and 2) effective case management, as they share their housing-seeking journeys of little to no income, little help, and endless barriers.
We surveyed 39 residents on their plans post-hotel closure, and the findings were appalling:
- Only 12.8% of respondents (n=5) had housing lined up, although 5.1% of these (n=2) stated the need for several weeks of shelter-stay until their housing becomes available.
- The remaining 87.2% of respondents (n=34) have no housing options on the horizon,
- Have no idea where to go (51.3%, n=20),
- Will be forced outside in the streets (23.1%, n=9),
- Forced to leave town (5.1%, n=2),
- Were told by case managers that they’ll have a bed at a walk-in shelter supposedly “reserved” for them as though it were a housing connection (5.1%, n=2),
- Or, in one case, have motel-stay for 1 week before being back out in this dangerous position (2.6%, n=1).
Residents were told that only the top 10 most at-risk individuals would move to Aloft, now called “Be Kind”, another protective action hotel slated to be closed later this December, leaving its residents in this same situation. Here’s one resident’s comments on his impending shelter stay:
Case manager said she’d reserve a bed for me in the shelter. Conversations are dim. They pack them
in there. Last one I stayed at had mice and men were fighting over beds, [wall outlet] plug-ins, even in
the shower. I’ve been diagnosed with a heart aneurysm so shelters won’t work for me. Staying here I
could take a shower and stay clean, I can’t do that at a shelter. I have plans, I want to upgrade my life.
As for case management, 35 residents commented on the kind of support they’ve received.
- 60% of respondents (n=21) felt the case management they’d received was not helpful. Some reasons include:
- “Case manager is reason we lost apartment”
- “She told me it’s closing but didn’t offer plan”
- “Case manager said going somewhere, hasn’t said where yet. Have to meet her, idk when meeting yet”
- “I haven’t talked with her about any tangible solutions… been waiting 5 years for SSI and housing”
- “Not doing anything, not passing info about shelter programs. Case manager needs to be proactive”
- 25.7% of respondents (n=9) felt their case managers were trying, but limited by a lack of resources:
- “[Doing] all she could”
- “She’s working hard at it”
- “We have a person looking for a place for us but because of our conditions we lost everything and made our credit bad… Cannot find a place that will take us”
- 14.3% of respondents (n=5) found their case management to be helpful:
- “Case manager helped with getting the voucher”
- “Helping with all [applications]”
- “Found housing through a case manager. First case manager left because he had a baby, the second case manager never showed up – scheduled and then canceled meetings – then [my current case manager] took over.”
This final comment describes a trend felt by many unhoused folks as a result of high turnover rates. HAND and many of the residents recognize that case managers are overworked and under-resourced. With that, the need for effective case management that acknowledges the intersectional barriers people face, along with real housing options, becomes evermore critical.
As for those barriers, 20 residents mentioned – unprompted – issues that impede their ability to attain housing:
- 40% of respondents (n=8) are couples faced with having to choose between safety and their loved one:
- “Looking for a place in the woods with my wife to pitch a tent. Somewhere hidden away where no-one can see us.”
- “Putting on a list for a women’s shelter… and working on husband ID to go back to work he’s 61 years [old] on August 26th. Need more facilities for couples”
- “Husband is very ill, and they not working to keep us together”
- 35% of respondents (n=7) referenced their health issues:
- “Disabled for 33 years”
- “I am currently injured… I cannot get through another winter, and I cannot survive another bout of Covid: age/ health”
- “[I plan on] living in a vehicle or on streets, in wheelchair”
- “Buy a tent and air bed and search for a place… Huh, safe for deaf, I don’t think so… Wheelchair and deaf”
- 20% of respondents (n=4) received housing vouchers but will still be left to the streets if they cannot find landlords to accept them. They are at risk of losing the vouchers if housing isn’t found within a short amount of time – a stark reality that contributes to vouchers’ problematic nature.
- 15% of respondents have pets (n=3), once again causing them to choose between a beloved fur baby and shelter:
- “Real difficult to get somewhere with a dog”
- “Need more facilities for pets. Have a dog and cat – emotional [support] pets”
- 10% of respondents (n=2) specifically called out the infractions on their rights and dignity:
- “We (everyone in our position) are second rate citizens. Generally people don’t care what happens to us.”
- “Better housing rights”
- 1 person mentioned the lack of felon-friendly housing and the incredulous depth of their plight:
- “The last time [I went to prison] was in 1999, so it’s hard for me to get housing. I want to live a decent and peaceful life, I’m not looking for trouble.”
The reality is that the City can, and must, ensure that all these quality residents of Quality Inn are moving from the hotel into appropriate housing – not the streets, shelters, or other unsafe living situations.
Come to the City and County Building (1420 Bannock St) on Monday August 29th at 5pm in the City Council Chambers and 5:30pm on City Hall steps to hear the demands of Quality Inn residents directly. We Are Quality.
Housekeys Action Network Denver
Towards rights, dignity, housing…