SPECIAL REPORT: Homeless Motel Living - A room without a home - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

SPECIAL REPORT: Homeless Motel Living - A room without a home


It's an epidemic in the making all across the country, and in the Columbus area, people living in motels sometimes riddled with crime are looking for a chance to start anew.

Holding back tears, Eartha Martin said as a mother on the streets she feels like she let her kids down.

Her three children are ages 13, 10 and 8.

After moving to Phenix City from Arizona to help a family member, Eartha found herself suddenly homeless.

She was forced to use what little money she had to pay for a motel room.

"You get so broke you can't even pay for another week at the motel and you don't know where you are going to go and motels are really expensive," she said. 

Martin claimed it's dangerous at times for her children.

"There is a lot of drug use, a lot of prostitution a lot of people walking around and approaching me for different things," Martin explained. "You have to be strong, know where you come from and know where you are trying to get to and tell them no."

Martin knows it's been tough on her kids, especially when they go to school.

"The stigma behind living in a motel with my children was really hard on them catching the bus from the motel," Martin said. "As a mother you want to give your children everything and sometimes you don't have the means to give them everything and you have to reach out to someone who can help you."

A local church helped Martin. She now has a job at a daycare and is moving into her own apartment leaving motel living in the past, but others aren't as lucky.

Retired Marine Steven Blake and his wife Tracy spend nights on the streets because they said living in a motel made it impossible to have enough money for a place of their own.

"You can't save, you can't save anything," Steven said. 

News Leader 9's Chandi Lowry asked Blake "So how does it feel, you served your country, now this?"  

"It feels like I'm being spit on," he replied. 

"We want to get off the streets we want to do better," Tracy said. "We want to have something like everyone else."

While some look at motel living as running a race with no finish line, others like Kymonti Washington have used it as a step in the right direction.

"I try to motivate people when they are here," Washinton said. "Just because you are here doesn't mean you hit rock bottom. It's just a stepping stone for you right now."

Kymonti was homeless when he came to The Efficiency Lodge Motel and now he works there. His room is decorated like an apartment.

Others live there long term too and with no real address, they are considered homeless. A retired veteran has been there for 12 years.

The motel wasn't always a place to call home.

In 2011 police surrounded the motel during a possible meth bust and the room that was investigated still can't be used.

"It was bad, it was really bad. It was just a mess when we first got here but it's a lot better now," said manager Judi Potter.

Potter said she and Washington helped turned the place around.

"We keep it clean. We have remodeled the rooms, new carpet, new tile, we have free Wi-Fi, cable TV, HBO and Showtime."

Washington said he patrols the motel and if he spots crime happening he'll be at the door first thing in the morning, and he won't hesitate calling police.

The duo wants the motel to be as safe as possible for families who are trying to get back on their feet.

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