There is Room at the Inn

Ah, the remains of yesteryear. The low-cost motels that sprung up everywhere decades ago now stand vacant and in disrepair, a mere shell of their previous lives. The lives of homeless people run a strained parallel, lost and forgotten… but not anymore. A homeless nonprofit based in Irvine, California called Illumination Foundation is changing that.

The foundation repurposed the remains of a seedy Buena Park motel called the Coral Motel into a recovery center for the homeless. The lobby became a triage center and the rooms were converted into clean recovery facilities for homeless people recently discharged from the hospital. A nurse is on staff to supervise care and help with complications. It is impossible to properly recover on the streets, returning to the ER with costly complications.

Recovery centers can be pricey to set up, but starting with an existing building saves a lot of money. It may not be a fancy Hyatt or Hilton, but it serves the purpose. The motel recovery room costs half of what a hospital room would, and it is like being at home (or better than home). Elvin Quinones, a patient at the Coral Motel, was living in his car with his two dogs when he had gall bladder surgery. The cramped conditions combined with the medical drain tube made his life very uncomfortable and healing impossible until he found the motel.

Hospitals and health insurance companies help fund the motel-based care centers because it saves them money to stabilize the patients. This is money in addition to payments from Medi-Cal.  The motels are providing safe and necessary care during recovery. While the patients are at the motel, they are provided with social services and assisted in finding stable housing.

The foundation has expanded the motel model to six sites in four counties: Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino. They have been working with dozens of cities across the country to establish similar setups. Every city has a homeless problem, and every city has a dumpy old motel. This is an opportunity for a great solution.

Gorn, David. “Old Motels Get New Life Helping Homeless Heal.” News. California Healthline, 28 Jun 2016. Web. 28 Jun 2016.

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