Study Explores Characteristics of Residents of Extended-Stay Motels in Georgia

A report by LiveNorcross, When Extended Stay Becomes Home, summarizes the findings of a survey of residents of extended-stay motels in Norcross, GA, that sought to better understand who is living in motels on an extended basis and why. The report found that most extended-stay residents originally saw residence in motels as a temporary situation but then struggled to save enough money to move.

Through interviews with motel managers and residents, LiveNorcross found that nine of the fourteen motels within Norcross city limits – with a total of 1,249 rooms for rent - were primarily residential. Volunteers canvassed all nine residential motels over six weekends in the fall of 2018. They received 175 full surveys, including open-ended comments, from extended-stay residents.

Most Norcross extended-stay residents were employed, and 69% worked full-time jobs. Thirty-nine percent of families surveyed had children living with them. Twenty-nine percent were seniors (age 55 and older), many of whom had fixed incomes and were at risk of homelessness as motel rates increased.

The majority of residents saw living in a motel as a temporary situation at first, but 40% of respondents had resided in an extended-stay motel for a year and 22% for three or more years. Eighty-five percent of participants reported being housing cost-burdened, which LiveNorcross defined as paying more than 35% of their incomes towards rent. Twenty-five percent of residents paid more than 80% of their incomes on rent. With such high cost-burdens residents struggled to save enough money for the security deposits and initial rents required to move into rental homes with long-term leases. Seventy-nine percent of respondents reported they simply required some temporary assistance to move to permanent housing, while 71% reported they would not need long-term assistance to maintain such housing. Responses to open-ended survey items indicated that eviction records were also a barrier to leasing a rental home. Only 13% of those surveyed did not express a strong desire to move into permanent housing.

Some of the authors’ recommendations include working with non-profits that administer rapid re-housing to provide temporary assistance to residents looking to find permanent housing, converting extended-stay motels into affordable housing, and waiving the hotel-motel excise tax for patrons staying more than a week. The authors also emphasized the need for more affordable, quality rental housing, especially for residents with fixed incomes, to promote housing stability.

When Extended Stay Becomes Home is available at: