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Hopeless Shelters: Welcome To The Motel California June 24, 2009

Hope and Wrath The recent depictions of the Democratic party as the masters of hope and change have taken an interesting twist. Remember the homeless woman who Obama reached out to during a town hall meeting last February in Fort Meyers, Florida?  Her name was Henrietta Hughes and she cried out to Obama for help. Henrietta was without the means to take care of her children.


February 11, 2008 BY ASSOCIATED PRESS

FORT MYERS, Fla.-A woman’s hard-luck tale at a town hall meeting in Florida moved President Barack Obama to leave the stage.

When Henrietta Hughes complained she’d been down on her luck and was living in her car with her son, Obama walked to her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Hughes said she was out of work and homeless, with “a very small vehicle for my family and I to live in.”

A White House press secretary said administration officials asked the local housing authority to contact her after the exchange in Fort Myers.

Meanwhile, the wife of Florida state Rep. Nick Thompson offered to let the woman stay in a house she owns that’s vacant about 30 miles away.

For matters of clarification, lets summarize the situation. The hopenchangling attends town hall meeting February 10, 2009. There he meets homeless woman who is obviously an Obama supporter. The change deity listens to the woman’s pleas for help and her desires to someday have her own kitchen and bathroom. The change deity hugs woman (smiles for camera) and tells her that she will be contacted by someone on his staff. The woman, Henrietta Hughes is then helped by of all people- a Republican state representative and his wife who gives her a home.  In many articles the fact that Nick Thompson (R-Florida) and his wife Chene were Republicans went unmentioned. The mainstream media did not want the word to get out that despite the Obama DNC love and promises to help that Henrietta received in front of the flashing lights and cameras, it was actually someone behind enemy lines that actually lifted a finger to do something. It has been nearly five months since Henrietta first met President Obama and she is still holding out for hope.

April 23, 2009

Woman who pleaded to Obama is still struggling

(CNN)The homeless Florida woman who made a tearful plea for help from President Obama earlier this year is still jobless and struggling financially.

Henrietta Hughes caught the nation’s attention in February when she cried for help during one of Obama’s town hall meetings.

After her plea, Hughes was given a free home to live in temporarily, but she is still struggling to find a job and might soon lose that home, CNN affiliate WINK reported Thursday.

Hughes, who is in her 60s, faithfully goes to an employment center in Fort Myers in hopes of finding a job.

“It’s almost our second home,” Hughes told WINK.

She and her son have taken a computer class at the center to help land work. Hughes said she has applied for as many jobs as possible but has struck out. Her son has had no luck either.

Now Hughes says she feels time is running out. The home she lives in was donated by the wife of a Florida lawmaker, Chene Thompson, who has been trying to sell the vacant home in the Fort Myers suburb of Lavelle since 2006. Once the house sells, Hughes will have to leave.

But Thompson told CNN that she will do everything in her power to make sure Hughes is not back out on the streets even if her house sells.

“I’ve told Miss Hughes … she will never again be homeless, even if I have to personally assist her with her rent,” said Thompson, who is a longtime advocate of the homeless.

Thompson said Hughes reminds her of her grandmother and that she and her son are “upstanding, good-hearted people.”

“Her concern is that she doesn’t want to be a freeloader,” Thompson said, but Hughes and her son have helped deter vandals who have targeted vacant homes in the area.

“They really are a blessing for me,” Thompson said.

But Hughes told WINK that she worries that she could end up living in her truck again if she has to move without a job.

dustbowlGiven the power of the President of the United States, you would think that Barack Obama could some how get this woman and her son a job. In de-emphasizing the political party of Henrietta’s true helpers, the mainstream media once again evades the hypocrisy of the Democrats. Didn’t Florida’s electroal votes go to Brack Obama? Surely there is someone there that can give this woman a job or a more permanent home.  While looking for more stories on Henrietta Hughes, I could not help noticing that the Obama family has failed to take part in personally reaching out to this woman and her son. Doesn’t Henrietta deserve more than a peck on the cheek? Judas kissed Jesus too you know…Just sayin.

So much for Henrietta being the “face of America’s failing economy”. That should be changed to faces (plural). Apparently the economic stimulus package Obama was peddling the day he met Henrietta was never intended to help Main Street folk. So extensive homelessness in America has become that the state of Massachusettes uses motels to shelter those who cannot sustain themselves.

Boston Globe

June 24,2009

A room to call home

State sheltering a record number of struggling families in motels

By Jenifer B. McKim

Robert Cutler and Tanya Labitue wake each morning in a rundown Saugus motel room to the buzz of busy Route 99 and the coos of their 6-month-old daughter, Ashleigh.

For more than three months, the tiny room has been their home. Cutler and Labitue spend each day caring for Ashleigh, looking for work, and watching television. They eat microwaved food, cram provisions into a small refrigerator, and dream of a place of their own.

Still, said Cutler, the motel is “better than being on the streets, and we get to be together.’’

Cutler, 34, and Labitue, 30, found themselves homeless in March after Cutler lost his job. They are among 751 families, including about 1,000 children, housed in 39 motels at a cost to state taxpayers of $85 per room a night on average – nearly $2 million last month alone.

Many motels are in congested commercial districts on busy thoroughfares without sidewalks. They often are dingy, with poor lighting, worn carpeting, and – in some places – bedbugs. Families are not allowed to have visitors in their rooms, some of which lack microwaves and refrigerators. Children have parking lots as their only playgrounds.

More homeless families are being lodged in hotels than ever. Officials blame the increase on rising unemployment and a flood of foreclosures. The state says it provides families with services similar to those offered at shelters, including transportation for children to their original school districts, and referrals to community resources for food and clothing.

“We are obligated to put them in a place where they can have at least a roof over their head,’’ said Bob Pulster, executive director of the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness, created by Governor Deval Patrick in 2007 to end homelessness by 2013. “A motel may be the best we can do right now

Poverty_kidsWhile the motel shelters seem generous, there is a concern among many that they offer no supervision or counseling for the inhabitants. As someone that was once homeless, I cannot emphasize enough, the need for safety and security within a homeless shelter. My experience had a profound effect upon my psyche. Yes many people are homeless but what is not said is that many of those engage in criminal behavior, are often abusive to their children and spouses or they may be mentally ill. They may be prostitutes or drug addicts. Sometimes there are problems with lice and scabies.

What I am trying to say is that there is nothing romantic about being homeless. I have been there and each possible social ailment I have just stated describes a woman who was in the shelter with my mother and I.

There was Diane who was a prostitute and turned tricks in Grant Park while her three year old son sat on a bench unattended while she was in the bushes.

There was Karen, a drug addict and her two children who watched while our floor mother had to call the police because Karen refused to stop doing drugs in the shelter. She would sell her food stamps for drugs.

Laurie was in the shelter because her husband beat her, and her two children.

And then there was my mother who had a problem with depression that was so severe, she would let her daughter steal food just to be fed.

Cities such as Cambridge are grappling with issues brought on by an influx of motel families. For instance, officials last year learned about a growing number of homeless families at the Cambridge Gateway Inn following an uptick in emergency calls about medical problems and criminal activity at the motel. The Fire Department found minor safety violations, including prohibited hot plates and toaster ovens, and now makes weekly checks.

“It’s an extraordinary waste of money when we know the best way to house people is in permanent housing,’’ said Joe Kriesberg, president of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations, which works to promote affordable housing and economic development.

Some question whether motels are an efficient use of tax dollars. A monthlong stay costs an average of $2,550 – similar to rent in some upscale Boston high-rises.

Last week, the Legislature voted to tighten family eligibility requirements for emergency shelter, something that could leave hundreds scrambling for a place to live. Currently, families whose income does not exceed 130 percent of the federal poverty level qualify for shelter. The new law drops it for incoming families to 115 percent of the poverty level, or $25,357 annually for a family of four.

The city’s health department is concerned about bedbugs, after complaints from residents and reports from school nurses that children from the motel appeared to have suffered bites. Sam Lipson, director of environmental health for the Cambridge Public Health Department, said officials worked with the motel in February to address the problems and have heard no new complaints. But hotel guests might be reluctant to complain for fear of being forced out, he added…

While the state has placed families in motels since 2007, when the 2,000 rooms in homeless shelters reached capacity, the temporary solution has become a long-term problem. The number of families in motels as of June 15 – 751 – was 355 percent higher than the 165 housed in them as of mid-June last year. Families are also staying longer. As of May, the average time was two months, compared with one week a year ago, but stays can stretch as long as eight months.

As a result, budget motels like the Gateway Inn have essentially become homeless shelters, with nearly all rooms occupied by state-paid guests. Massachusetts is one of the few states that mandate shelter for homeless families.

Hopeless shelters, that is what I call them. Such a lovely place.

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4 Responses to “Hopeless Shelters: Welcome To The Motel California”

  1. Marcy Says:

    I did not know until reading your post that the person helping this woman was a Republican. The press not only de-emphasized that fact, they kept that little secret better than the CIA protects national security information.

    Providing safe, clean, basic shelter to the homeless should be a priority for this country. I always thought the Democratic Party was sincerely trying to do this (just like I foolishly thought they considered women’s rights an important issue); with unemployment so high, this complicated, problem will only get worse and urgently needs someone intelligent and hard-working to try to solve or at least lessen it. I’m not thinking The Rhetorical President is up to the task, even if he gave a shit and cared about solving it. But I’m sure ACORN, or the organization formerly known as ACORN, will still get billions and billions.

    • afrocity Says:

      Marcy, I learned about it awhile back when I became curious as to why Chene and her husband’s political affiliation was NEVER mentioned, especially with him being a state representative. Sure enough, as I suspected, he was a Republican.

      I am glad to see that you have heard about ACORN’s name change. Educate as many people as you can about this.

Comments are closed.