The hidden homeless

Philadelphia Inquirer highlights
Sheltered in motels, they wait, hope


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The Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Edward Colimore published – The hidden homeless: Sheltered in motels, they wait, hope – a front page article today on the hidden homeless in Camden City and County. The article focuses on those who have lost their jobs and housing during the economic downturn but are “Unseen by motorists speeding by on Route 38, the men, women, and children live in single rooms at the motel, where beds double as dinner tables, and folded clothes, food, and toys are stacked high along the walls.”

“Many times, these are families who were doing very well until one or both parents lost their job or had a health problem or a foreclosure,” said Carol Kaufman-Scarborough, a professor of marketing at Rutgers University-Camden who recently completed a paper on the “hidden homeless” in motels.”

Video of the Cordero Family

After losing his job and apartment, Robert Cordero has been living at the Hillside Inn in Cherry Hill, N.J. with his five children for five months. Video by April Saul Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Photographer.

The article begins by focusing on Mr. Cordero and his struggle to survive:

Sometimes the problems are so overwhelming that Robert Cordero steps away from his children for a few minutes to pull himself together.

While two sons and three daughters play in a cluttered Cherry Hill motel room, he turns up the radio, closes the bathroom door, and cries.

“I can’t let them see me that way. . . . Who will they look up to?” said the 40-year-old single father. “I have to go back and try to raise five kids.”

Cordero’s family has lived at the Hillside Inn for more than five months, along with a couple dozen other homeless people surviving on public assistance.

The article closes on an optimistic note.

“It’s rough, really rough, when you come from something to nothing,” Cordero said. “That’s life.

“You can’t go down any more when you’ve hit rock bottom,” he said. “The only way we can go is up.”

The challenge that confronts all of us is how to end homelessness once and for all not only for Mr. Cordero but for all of our brothers and sisters that are homeless!

We strongly recommend the full article as well as the two videos and slide show.