Lisa Yancy and her husband James had been sleeping in their car and hopping between places to stay. Her husband, a homeless Gulf War veteran, was recently hospitalized with the flu. Staying outside this winter was taking its toll.
She walked over to the Goodnight Inn in Talent. “That was Jesus,” Yancy said, “telling me to walk over here and ask if you can work for ’em or anything, just to get a room.” She couldn’t work for a room but was led to the Ashland Resource Center where she found help from Southern Oregon Jobs With Justice.
“They were looking for some emergency housing,” said Jason Houk with SOJWJ, “and that was something that our group has a budget for.” Houk and the group set the couple up at the Ashland Motel on Siskiyou Boulevard. “Previously they have always been really accommodating to folks in need,” Houk said, “including long-term rentals.”
Houk and his wife, Vanessa, said they bought the room on hotels.com and put it in Yancy’s name. When they went to check-in, Yancy said the manager turned her away and said they couldn’t get the room because they needed a deposit.
“Neither of them had an active credit card,” Houk said, “…that’s an easy fix. I have a credit card, went to make a deposit.” Houk said the hotel wouldn’t take the card unless it belonged to one of the guests. He said the motel previously accepted cash but was told it was under new ownership, and that was no longer allowed.
“The manager was very adamant about not wanting to offer service to this couple,” Houk said.
When NBC5 News spoke to the manager he said two things are required at check-in, identification and a credit card matching the name of the identification. The manager said they don’t take deposit via debit card or cash, that’s just their policy. He originally agreed to an interview saying he did nothing wrong but changed his mind after speaking with his lawyer.
SOJWJ was eventually able to get the couple back into the Goodnight Inn in Talent where their journey began. The United Way of Jackson County and it’s CEO Dee Anne Everson sponsored their stay for a whole week.
“Some people get in binds,” Yancy said, “it’s not cause people are on drugs. That lady didn’t know us, never met us and helped us right away, no problem. You know, we need more people out there like that. That’s how I feel.”
Houk said more hotels are turning people away for having local addresses, so helping those in need is becoming increasingly difficult. He said hopefully making a situation like this public can help create change.