Department or Program



Millions of Americans currently face profound housing insecurity. As a result of America’s inadequate housing system, many of these individuals are confined to locations of invisibility, like couches, cars, tents, shelters, or the streets. This thesis analyzes the use of motels as an increasingly prevalent form of housing for low-income and marginalized communities. For the purpose of this study, motel residents are individuals who have resided in a motel for over thirty days, therefore meeting qualifications of homelessness. I thus ask two questions: does motel residency reinforce socioeconomic insecurity? How do motel residents navigate their housing circumstances? Through thirty-one qualitative interviews with motel residents and service providers, my data revealed two conclusions. Firstly, motel residency reinforces housing instability and social inequality by proliferating insecurity at physical, interpersonal, and institutional levels. Secondly, motel residents cultivate powerful internal community networks and deploy innovative housing strategies in order to survive their residential circumstances. Motels thus represent unique dualities of the housing crisis. To better assist this population, governments should expand public housing resources and transportation infrastructure to include motel residents. To reduce motel residents’ barriers to social services, governments should modify definitions of homelessness or tenancy.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Kane, Emily

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Community Engagement


Open Access

Available to all.