My time in motel hell: Scenes from America’s housing crisis


[fusion-lede]Hard as I tried to shake her, the woman with the rudely removed pinky toe would not depart my thoughts. [/fusion-lede]

Anybody who wears open-toe sandals after losing an appendage like that has to be a teller of critical truths.

The lady’s name is Stephanie, and on the second morning of July I met her in the parking lot of a chain motel in downtown Vancouver, Washington, or “The Couve,” the state’s fourth-largest municipality.

Around lots like that one you’ll find everything you need to know — maybe not anything you want to know — about those who are reduced to living in rooms with doors that open to car exhaust. Bedbug bites are far from the worst outcome in this, one of the lowest rungs of housing insecurity, just steps away from homelessness.

Watch the parking lots and you will see, first, that the numbers rarely add up. A…

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