At Nest Community Shelter, we hear countless stories of individuals who find themselves among the hidden homeless population living in motels. Today, we share a fictionalized account pulled from the details of numerous stories we’ve encountered about the realities of motel living. We have chosen to share a fictionalized account of motel living to protect the anonymity of our guests, past and present. 


I never thought I’d find myself in this situation, but here I am, living in a motel room, wondering how I ended up here and how I’ll ever escape this cycle of housing insecurity. From the outside, it might seem like I have a roof over my head, but the reality is far from stable or secure. Sure, I am out of the elements, but for how long, I don’t know.

When I first lost my apartment due to unexpected job loss and mounting bills, I thought a motel would be a temporary solution. I figured I’d stay for a week or two while I got back on my feet. I didn’t want to ask for help from others, I got myself into this, and I’ll get myself out. But as the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months, I realized that the high cost of motel living was making it nearly impossible to save up for a more permanent housing situation and now I’m embarrassed of my situation.

Living in a motel is not only financially draining but also emotionally and mentally taxing. The constant uncertainty of not knowing if I’ll have enough money to pay for another night’s stay is a heavy burden to bear. Every day, I wake up with the fear that I might be forced to leave, with nowhere else to go. I can’t even think about that without spiraling, and my thoughts swimming. What would I do with my belongings? Where would I sleep?

The conditions in the motel are far from ideal, but it’s home for now. The room is cramped, and the amenities are basic at best. I don’t have access to a proper kitchen, so I rely on foods that don’t have to be cooked, microwave meals, and fast food, which is harmful to my health and expensive. I don’t have a fridge, freezer or cooktop to make myself meals. Nor do I have access to a washing machine or dryer. I often wash my clothes in the sink in my room.

One of the biggest challenges of motel living is the lack of stability and security. I never know when the motel management might decide to raise the rates or if they’ll suddenly ask me to leave. This constant state of uncertainty makes it difficult to plan for the future or focus on improving my situation. With the cost of my room now, I am unable to save and build a cushion to prepare for a rate hike. I am at the mercy of motel management at this moment.

Moreover, the motel environment can be dangerous, especially for someone in a vulnerable position like myself. I’ve witnessed drug deals, domestic violence, and other criminal activities that make me feel unsafe. I keep to myself as much as possible, but the fear is always present. The thin walls offer little privacy, and I’m constantly aware of the noise and activities of the other guests around me. This can make resting difficult, and fills me with apprehension.

The stigma attached to living in a motel is another burden to bear. People often assume that I’m lazy, irresponsible, or have made poor life choices. They don’t understand that I’m working hard to survive and that the lack of affordable housing options has left me with few alternatives.

What many people don’t realize is that the hidden homeless, like me, are often hardworking individuals who have fallen on tough times. I didn’t choose to end up in this situation, and now I feel trapped. We are the forgotten faces of the housing crisis, struggling to maintain a semblance of dignity and normalcy in a world that seems to have left us behind.

I dream of the day when I’ll have a stable, secure place to call home. A place where I can cook my own meals, have privacy, and not have to worry about where I’ll sleep each night. But until then, I’m trapped in this cycle of housing insecurity, hoping that someday I’ll find a way out.

If you’re reading this, I urge you to have compassion for those living in motels and other forms of hidden homelessness. We are not invisible, and our struggles are real. Support affordable housing initiatives in our community and remember that everyone deserves a safe and stable place to call home.

For now, I’ll continue to survive the best I can, holding onto the hope that one day I’ll break free from this motel room and find the housing security I so desperately need.


This fictional account of someone experiencing hidden homelessness is based upon many real accounts we’ve had guests experience before coming to Nest. We know that motel living is not sustainable and often traps residents into a scary cycle of housing insecurity. If you or someone you know is living in this situation in our area, please know there is help for you. Please reach out to us, or any of the community partners in our area for help.

If you are a community member and would like to help support Nest so that we can help individuals experiencing this way of life, find their way to a safe, stable home to call their own, please consider donating to support our mission.