Los Angeles Homeless Family Living in Weekly Rate Hotel


– [Interviewer] Olivia and
Alex, we’re here in Los Angeles, The Valley, you guys are
living in a hotel, homeless. Tell me about it. – I hate it, this is actually not our first time being homeless. The first, original time was back in 2013 when my mom decided to go back to Uganda to have a mini-vacation. I had lost my job, I got laid off, and then I thought I had nowhere to go. Thankfully, I went to the county, and they put us in a hotel, actually, we were at the Budget
Inn, which is literally walking distance from here. We stayed there for
about a month and a half, and then there was a
Lutheran social services, so they helped us stay an extended stay for about three months, and
then I stayed in an apartment in Van Nuys, and then, unfortunately, they cut my hours, we got evicted, and that was the second time. And so I thought everything was fine, and everything went well,
and then, unfortunately, my son went into anaphylactic
shock at the daycare, which is around the corner from here. They gave him a pint of
milk and he almost died. – [Interviewer] Oh my gosh. – So we got airlifted to
the Children’s Hospital, he was lifeless for a
good two, three minutes, and then after that I couldn’t work. Every day I would keep thinking about it. The job I had was seasonal at
the Cheesecake Factory ended, and so my mom would
help take care of my son and then I got another
job at Bank of America as a temp, doin’ real estate. That job ended as well, I
worked at City National Bank and I did a bunch of other odd jobs to try to make ends meet. It wasn’t enough, and so,
that, right before Christmas we were evicted and then
this final time, actually, we were evicted Christmas
day, and I was like, I can’t, I thought I was losin’ my mind. – I was supposed to get something. – He was supposed to get all
this stuff for Christmas, I couldn’t afford it, I was like, you’ll get it next year,
this time, this year, it never happened, I was crying. I had to move everything by myself because, unfortunately,
the people at Home Depot they don’t speak English,
they didn’t wanna help move. – My grandma was just playin’ music, not doin’ anything, not helping. – Yeah, I had to move my
whole entire apartment by myself in the U-Haul
truck, move everything to the public storage in Northridge, my back was out for a
good two, three days, we checked into the Motel
6 that Christmas day, and then we stayed there
for about a day and a half, and then my mom put us
at a different hotel, I don’t remember which
one, and then I went to the county the following
day to get the assistance, because now they help you every year to get hotel vouchers,
so it’s a good 28 days through the program, and
then, because I’m in GAIN and I work, they gave me an extra 14 days, so I got about a month and a
half at the Sylmar Motel 6, and I would commute from
Sylmar to North Hills to make sure my son was going to school. And LA Family Housing then stepped in, because they said I had
to exhaust the county before I get their help, and so– – [Interviewer] And now
LA Family is helping you. – Yes, so after we stayed in Motel 6, actually they tried to
put us at the Palm Tree above the street, they had bedbugs. So we left, I left, I was like, I’m not gonna stay in a
hotel that has bedbugs, despite us being homeless, we don’t have to be in a bad situation, ’cause we’re already in
a situation as it is. So we left, and then we
stayed at the Travel Inn, which is also on Sepulveda, and I paid out of pocket, so I paid about, a good three, four hundred
dollars for two, three days, and then LA Family Housing did step in, and we actually stayed in Crenshaw for about a month and a half.
– A month. – And it was nice, actually,
it was like the Taj Mahal. We had all the movie
channels, it was a 60 inch TV, but the neighborhood was bad. Every other week a kid was getting shot at Audubon Middle School, and the street would be blocked off and
I would have to leave at four in the morning just
to bring my son to school. – Everybody would be gang banging. – Yeah, people are gang banging, people are shooting, people
are drinking outside, it was just not the area to raise my kid, and I’m like, I don’t wanna be here, if I’m trying to find an
apartment in The Valley, I can’t do this commute from Crenshaw back and forth every single day. Yes, I go to West Angeles,
and it’s around the corner, and that was great, it
was five minutes away. – We’d go to the Twin’s house. – I would go to my Twins,
my friends in South Central, and see them on the weekends too, but it wasn’t an environment
I wanted to raise my kid in, because, unfortunately,
as a single parent, little kids are always drawn
into that gang lifestyle. And I’m like, I don’t
want that for my son. – Bishop Blake?
– Yes, he’s still there. He’s amazing.
– So I, that’s where I got saved.
– That’s amazing. – [Interviewer] At a
Smokey Robinson testimony when I lived in a homeless shelter. – That’s amazing.
– Many many years ago. And also, I was the family case manager– – Wow.
– For Ascencia, a family outreach case manager, and on Christmas, I used
to adopt the Budget Inn. – Wow.
– And I would bring all the families trees and gifts and so, oh my gosh, I can only imagine what you’ve gone through as a mom, and the strength, because
I’ve seen the stories here. I’ve lived the stories here. Not as a homeless mom, but as a worker coming in and adopting these hotels. I miss coming in here
and around the holidays and helping you guys, I totally miss it, but I can’t, one of the things
that really broke my heart when we were talking, you
can’t let Alex outside. – Exactly.
– Here, because when it gets
dark, this neighborhood becomes bad.
– Exactly. And actually, I used to live
around the corner from here. I used to live right there
on Sepulveda and Tupper, which is walking distance,
and there was always cops, every, people smoke weed, they’d– – Remember when there
was a robbery at Chase? – There was a robbery at
Chase, they shut it down, it was 103 degrees outside,
and I couldn’t even get in my apartment to give him a shower. He has severe eczema, so when it’s hot, he breaks out really bad,
and they wouldn’t even let me go in my own apartment to take a shower. – [Interviewer] First off, your strength, and yours too, is really inspiring. Really, really inspiring.
– Thank you. – [Interviewer] America
doesn’t see this homelessness. (Alex coughs)
– Bless you. – [Interviewer] They don’t
see families in hotels, they see the guy with the cardboard box, or they think “Get a job.”
– Exactly. – [Interviewer] And you have a job. – Right.
– You have a job now. – Yeah, I do, it’s through the county, it’s through the GAIN
program, so I’m a TSE, I work at the Goodwill corporate office in Panorama City, and
it’s actually better, ’cause I used to work
at the corporate office in the LA campus in Lincoln Heights, and that commute, it was just bad. Come time to pick up, at four o’clock, I’d be on that freeway for an
hour and a half getting home. If there was a car accident, even longer. So I love the fact that
I’m five minutes away, God forbid something
happen to my son at school, I could get there in two
minutes, so it’s better. – [Interviewer] That is great, but I mean, you can’t afford an apartment. – No, because they only
pay me $12 an hour. I would need a job that at least pays me at least 18 to 20 to survive. I still have a car note,
that’s about 266.83 a month, my car insurance is $160,
my phone bill is about 60, all these bills add up. By the time, I only have
$100 left on my check. Every other bill adds
up, then I still have to start paying my student loan, so that way I can try to better myself
and go to law school. I don’t wanna be in this
situation ever again. – [Interviewer] Well,
back up a little bit. (Olivia laughs) Well, first I wanted to talk childcare. (Olivia laughs) Because, you know, childcare
is extremely expensive. It’s almost as expensive as rent. – Exactly.
– And it really is a roadblock for homeless families, homeless moms. – Right, right.
– But you said this law thing, you kinda like tried to cruise right by that, didn’t you? (Olivia laughs) You know, so what’s this law school thing? – Okay, so ever since I was a kid, everybody’s always told
me that I’m very smart, and I’m very quick on my
feet, I’m opinionated, and I would do well in, in being a lawyer. So after I graduated CSUN last spring, I wanted to do law school, and
so I’ve always been studying for it, and I keep procrastinating, matter of fact, I missed, I
think I missed the deadline by a week or so, but I
could still call them and turn in my paperwork
and take the LSAT, actually, next month on the 15th,
so people take years to study for the LSAT, I’m
smart, where I feel like I could get a perfect
score on my first try. I still wanna take it,
actually, next month, score it out the park,
hopefully go to Harvard, take my kid with me, and
then come back and be rich. Be famous, and then be
the first African woman to be on the Supreme Court, and– – Whoa, whoa, whoa.
– Gonna take over. – [Interviewer] We go
from law school, Harvard, and now you’re goin’ all
the way to Supreme Court. – Yes, because I don’t wanna
ever have to go to a struggle. I want my son to grow up to know, even though we’ve gone through hard times, mom made it, she made a way out of no way. Anything he wants, I give it to him. He’s actually in Boy
Scouts at West Angeles, he loves it, when they had the whole thing for the vets on Saturday,
I woke up at four or five in the morning,
got ready, took him, just to see his face light
up and be around other kids was amazing.
– Yeah. – I was on TV.
– You was on TV. Well, now you’re gonna be on YouTube. What do you think about that? Well, not yet, I gotta upload it. I’m not that good, it takes me awhile. – So yeah, everything I do for him, as long as he’s happy,
they have a fishing trip, actually, next month. I’ve never gone fishing,
I’ve never gone camping, it takes me out of my comfort zone, but for him, I’ll do it. So, my son is my everything to me. – [Interviewer] What would
you want people to know about family homeless,
I mean, how many places have you been in in the last year? – I’ve been from Sylmar to Crenshaw to the shelter in Woodland Hills, and now here, I’m really tired of moving. – [Interviewer] So that’s five places? – Yes, and it’s exhausting,
because as you can see, I have all this stuff, I
still have more in my trunk, I have four or five pairs of shoes, I have some other clothes,
I’m a mini-hoarder. – My shoes right there. – I have my own storage
space, yeah, he has his shoes. I try to keep everything
neat and organized, but I really accumulated a lot of stuff. – [Interviewer] Well, let’s talk, how hard is it, I mean, it’s one room. It’s not like a–
– It’s a studio. It’s a studio, it’s not even one room. – Yeah, but it sounded like when you rent a bachelor studio there’s like a kitchen– – Right. – You don’t have anything like that. – No.
– You have a sink and a bed, and a bathroom and a table. – Yeah.
– That’s it. – Exactly, I hate it. Because I can’t cook, I have a EBT card, my EBT card is actually maxed out, I have no more money, I’m depleted, I’m thankful for my mom that cooks for him and takes him to Denny’s so he can eat. Whenever he can, I’ll just
try to get a Cup of Noodles, or count my pennies that I have and eat, and thankfully, by the
first I’ll have cash aid and then the third, I’ll
have my food stamps. – [Interviewer] And you
do this dance every month. – Yeah, pretty much, and I hate it. – [Interviewer] Now,
because LA Family Housing is helping you, the government considers you homeless, right, when you’re payin’ for this yourself, you’re not homeless. – Can’t afford it, oh,
I couldn’t afford it. – [Interviewer] You’re not homeless. – No, yeah, you’re, technically
you’re living somewhere. You can afford to pay the monthly, and after 28 days, you
actually have to move. So, come the 28th day I’m here, I have to pack all my stuff,
find another hotel to stay, and then the next day I
can come back and check in. – [Interviewer] So why
do you have to move? Is that a hotel policy? – Yeah, it’s a new rule as of last year. You can’t–
– And do all of ’em? – Everyone in here has to
move come the 28th day. They have to exit, take
everything with them– – [Interviewer] And that’s because they’re homeless families.
– And then come back the next day.
– I mean this, – Yeah, it’s just a
hotel, it’s not a actual, it’s not your house,
so to maintain that law you have to take everything with you, get out, stay in a different hotel, – [Interviewer] Is this a
city law or a state law? – and then come back in. – [Interviewer] Oh my gosh, I didn’t know. So, ’cause back when I was case manager, we could only house a
family for three days. – Mmm, that’s nice. That’s not that long,
though, but that, that– – [Interviewer] In
three days, how do you– – You can’t do anything, yeah. – [Interviewer] Establish anything? – Yeah, you can barely
take a shower and leave, yeah, you can’t do anything. – [Interviewer] But, you know, in Florida, it’s around Disneyland where you have the, around Orlando, where you have this strip of families in hotels,
and here, it’s Sepulveda. The, all these hotels are
filled with homeless families. – Yeah, and matter of fact, the Indians run this one, the one on Palm
Tree, and the Budget Inn. They run these three hotels,
because I saw the owner on Saturday, and I was
like, I didn’t realize she owned all three, I thought
she just owned this one, and Palm Tree, I didn’t
know she owned this one too. So it’s a franchise for
them, it’s pretty smart. – [Interviewer] I’m sure, I’m sure. Well, you are amazing. – Thank you.
– You’re an inspiration to me, Alex, you’re an inspiration to me, too. – It’s Pretty Boy.
– Pretty Boy? Well, well, wait, Pretty
Boy, what’s Pretty Boy? – It means you’re pretty and fresh, you cool–
– Why isn’t it, well, I knew you was cool, and
you obviously pretty, right? – You swag–
– I’m too old to understand this fresh stuff.
– You have a chain, like me. And Jordans–
– Yeah, yeah, yeah. – And basketball shoes, soccer shoes– – [Interviewer] We’ve already established that you’re goin’ all the
way to the Supreme Court. How about you? What are you gonna be when you grow up? – Rapper.
– A rapper? Cool, awesome.
– Nothing else? – Imma be–
– Don’t you wanna play soccer? – I wanna play soccer, football … – [Interviewer] If you had three
wishes, what would they be? – For me or for him? – [Interviewer] Both of you. – To get out of this situation, to pass the bar on my first
try, and then to get a house for me and all my family to live in. ‘Cause my sister’s actually pregnant, and her baby’s due July 1st, so– – I thought Grandma’s not gonna live with, I thought she was gonna live with Diane. – No, she’s not. – [Interviewer] So, Alex,
do you have any wishes? – Huh?
– You have any wishes? – Yeah.
– What are they? – I wish I had a PS4, and I
wish I had a Nintendo Switch, and I wish I had high top soccer shoes, and I wish I had a Gucci. (Olivia laughs) – [Interviewer] You got it all down. Well, thank you very
much for talking to me, it’s been an honor to meet you both. – It’s been an honor to meet you as well. (soft music)

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