Parental Strategies for
Protecting Their Children
in Extended Stay Hotels
Terri Lewinson, PhD, LMSW
Georgia State University
My Extended Stay Research
- Use photography to understand residents’ descriptions
of their extended-stay hotel environment. Specifically,
how do residents:
Describe hotels as homes?
Perceive hotel environments’ influence on
Cope with hotel-housing concerns?
Experience social service barriers?
Virtually hidden population of
homeless families in extended stay
Families find hotels to be both a
refuge and prison
Hotel conditions provide benefits
and challenges
Parental Coping Strategies:
Shielding Their Emotions
Distracting Their Children
Maintaining Their Standards
Keeping Their Guards Up
Parental Coping Strategies:
Shielding Their Emotions
“I want to cry out but…I'll look at her and I won't
let her see me… [But] that just bothers me to
no end.” – Bobby
Parental Coping Strategies:
Distracting Their
Providing toys/
video games
Playing family
Cooking/baking to
preserve traditions
Allowing extended
visits away
Parental Coping Strategies:
Maintaining Their Standards
• For employment: “Dollar Tree, I went and I signed
an application. They’ll hire me but they’re looking
for a night person. I can’t be a night person. I
have my two kids. … I’ll have to leave there here
by themselves and I’m not going to do that.” –
• For housing: …”the [social service] assistant did not
want to keep me in the area. And the one thing
that really kind of irritated me with them the kids
was already situated here. And they wanted to
move us all the way to Norcross to an extendedstay that’s very drug-infested and very open with
prostitution. I did not want to go there and
because of that, it put them in a way where they
didn’t want to assist here.”
Parental Coping Strategies:
Keeping Their Guards Up
• “I went to the place where I’ve had a storage
unit and I knew that that place locked their
gates at 9. So I secured the back of the car and
put pallet and pillows for the kids to sleep. And, I
pretty much stayed up all night watching them.
(cries). And I waited till the gate closed. Then I
knew that we were safe and nobody could
come in until 6 the next morning. And we would
get up and I would get them cleaned up and
ready for school and take them to school. And
we’d start over the next day. But um that was at
a time when there was no money.” – Constance
Thank You
 Lewinson, T. and Collard, C. (2012). Social service barriers
experienced by low-income extended-stay hotel residents. Families in
Society, 93(2), 74-79.
 Lewinson, T. (2011). Extended stay motels. Encyclopedia of Housing,
2nd ed. Sage.
 Lewinson, T. (2011). Capturing environmental affordances: Lowincome families identify positive characteristics of a hotel housing
solution. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 21(1),
 Lewinson, T. (2010). Residents' coping strategies in an extended-stay
hotel home. Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research, 4(4):
 Lewinson, T., Hopps, J. G., & Reeves, P. (2010). Liminal living in an
extended-stay hotel: "Trapped" inside a housing solution. Journal of
Sociology and Social Welfare, 37(2), 9-34.