Olivia and her son Alex

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These days, a growing number of families are turning to ‘weekly rate’ hotels as a way to stay off the streets. But don’t let the roof fool you, many of these motels-turned-homes are shoddy, small, and unkempt. Hardly ideal living conditions for any person, never mind young children.

Olivia and her son Alex live in a small hotel room in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles County. The area is filled with miles of weekly rate hotels that provide refuge for low-income families. Prostitution, drug use, and violence often occur in the same hotels. Often called the “hidden homeless’, families with children that cannot afford adequate housing call these hotels home.

Olivia shares an often too common struggle low-income single moms have to go through on a daily basis just to survive. The strength and resilience Olivia has going from hotel to hotel and job to job are beyond commendable. Olivia is an amazing young mother giving her all to raise her son against all obstacles.

Most people hold on to the belief that homelessness is an older man with a cardboard sign begging for money. They also hold on strongly to the false belief that the solution to homelessness is the homeless person just needs to get a job. Olivia and her son living in a hotel are the homelessness you don’t see, but you need to see. Olivia also is employed but still cannot afford an apartment.

Family homelessness, once viewed as episodic and situational, has become chronic, with families accounting for 37% of the overall homeless population and 50% of the sheltered population.

1 in 30 American children experiences homelessness. They live with or without their families, in shelters, cars and abandoned buildings. Families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, accounting for almost 40-50% of the nation’s homeless. Lack of affordable housing is a primary cause of homelessness in families; often one or both parents are working, but not making a livable wage. Additionally, events such as illness, unemployment, accidents, and violence limit the ability to secure stable housing and affordable housing.

Olivia is an amazing young mother and an inspiration. She has a dream of going to law school to become a lawyer and eventually, the first African woman to be a Supreme Court Judge. I have a feeling she’ll make it happen.

If you’d like to help support Olivia here is her GoFundMe.

Very special thanks to LA Family Housing.

Invisible People


We imagine a world where everyone has a place to call home. Until then, we strive to be the most trusted source for homelessness news, education and advocacy.

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