The West Yarmouth Lodgings on Route 28 in West Yarmouth is one of many motels along that stretch of road that advertise weekly rates. For many residents who are seasonal workers, underemployed or unemployed, the motel has become an affordable and stable long term housing option. Unlike an apartment rental the motel does not require a renter to pay first, last, and security deposit before moving in. The other bonus is that the utilities are all included. The downside is that the rooms are small, they don't have a full kitchen, and they can be drafty in the winter. There is also the matter of crime. The Yarmouth Police are not unfamiliar with the motels and some of their residents.
In January of 2011, a Barnstable Superior Court judge ruled that the motel was in violation of the town's motel zoning bylaw that limited motel stays to 30 days or 90 days in a six month period. The ruling came with a deadline requiring that all residents must be out of the motel by May 1, 2011. The motel owner appealed the ruling and eventually submitted a proposal to the town to avoid a mass eviction. He has come up with a plan to update the buildings so it will be properly zoned to allow for long term residents. In the meantime the town is reaching out to residents by pulling together healthcare, housing, job and food assistance agencies for help.
I have been visiting the West Yarmouth Lodgings since Februrary in an attempt to tell the story of some of the residents who live there. This is the first installment of many in what is a still developing story.
West Yarmouth, MA - Februray 13, 2011: Phil Cripps (C) plays a video game while his wife Sherry Foster (2nd-R) talks on the phone and his 19-year-old son Nathan Cripps (R) looks on. Daughter Jasimine Cripps, 12-years-old plays a game on a handheld device on her parents bed. The Cripps family have been living in the motel for almost two years. Phil is currently unemployed and looking for work but wife Sherry and son Nathan work as dishwashers at a nearby hotel. Photo by Matthew Healey
West Yarmouth, MA - February 15, 2011: "This is my home" says Debbie Lopes, who has been living at West Yarmouth Lodgings for 8 years with her husband. She saves on her rent by cleaning rooms at the motel. Photo by Matthew Healey
West Yarmouth, MA - February 24, 2011: Tiffany Rose takes her 14-month old daughter Jenna Marie Rose for a walk in her stroller in front of the motel. Tiffany has been living in the motel since October and is only able to stay because she has been offered reduced rent. She is expecting her second child soon and said that if she is forced to leave the motel her only other option is a homeless shelter. Photo by Matthew Healey
West Yarmouth, MA - March 22, 2011: Michelle MaCura (C) plays with daughter Neveah Martin as Neveah's dad Joe Martin (L) looks on. The three have been living in the West Yarmouth Lodgings since August of 2010. Photo by Matthew Healey
West Yarmouth, MA - March 9, 2011: John Michael, who has been living at the West Yarmouth Lodgings off and on for two years, watches television in his room. Photo by Matthew Healey