The woman was utilizing Sacramento’s motel voucher program
Sacramento, Calif,- by Robert J Hansen
A pregnant Sacramento woman utilizing Sacramento’s Motel Voucher program through Hope Cooperative was kicked out of the Motel 6 on Elise by management in October.
Jessica Gilbert, 29, who had been living at the hotel since May, returned to her hotel room around 9:30 pm to find her card key deactivated and her possessions in the hotel office.
“I was gone all day and when I got back, some of my things were in the office and the rest was in the trash,” Gilbert said.
Sacramento police officers were called to the hotel and are heard asking Gilbert in a recording the hotel broke the law.
“They took advantage of the situation,” an officer said in the recording.
The officer told Gilbert that management kicking her out was not legal.
“Everything they did was illegal. I was here based on tenant's rights,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert says management gave her no reason why she had to leave.
This is not the first time this hotel has kicked out people using the City’s Motel Voucher program.
Hotel management has been unavailable to comment after several attempts to contact them.
Three days later Gilbert gave birth to her son Joseph, by way of cesarean. Gilbert’s son was taken by Child Protective Services (CPS) that day.
Since then she has been forced to live in her car after the hotel kicked her out and received no support from the City or Hope Cooperative.
Hope Cooperative told Gilbert that they never touched her belongings and that she would have to talk to the hotel management but that her case was closed out according to a message from an employee with Hope Cooperative.
“I'm struggling on so many levels right now. I feel I'm at my breaking point,” Gilbert said. “I'm literally in my car completely out of gas fighting CPS for my son. I'm having a hard time right now.”
Sacramento Homeless Union President Crystal Sanchez said the hotel voucher system in Sacramento is a revolving door that recycles people in and out without any real-time access to resources.
“We can not continue to take children away from families based on a system that is broken,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez hopes that Jessica can reunify with her newborn, Joseph and that the court mandates to help her find housing and the wrap-around services needed immediately.
“Daily we are seeing people being kicked out with no appropriate reasons. We have asked the city to hold some transparency and accountability around this and they have refused to,” Sanchez said
According to the City Department of Community Response Advisory board, which does all referrals to the motel voucher program, the motel managers are ultimately in charge of the motel.
The City of Sacramento’s motel voucher program has 370 motel rooms on contract, providing shelter and stability to 470 people experiencing homelessness through the use of federal and state funding.
The motel voucher program likely will continue to grow, said Bridgette Dean, director of the Department of Community Response in a City newsletter.
“We’re in negotiations now for another 30 hotel rooms,” Dean said. “And we’ve had interest from several more. Motel rooms may not be a permanent solution, but for a lot of people experiencing homelessness, they can lead to long-term housing.”
Bridget Dean nor the City have not responded to several emails and calls for comment regarding Gilbert and Motel 6.
Many of the people staying in these motels are families with children, and in some cases, people escaping from domestic violence.
“People become unhoused for a variety of reasons,” said Nick Golling, the City’s director of homeless services under the Department of Community Response. “The motel voucher program is a quick way to get people back into stable shelter and connected to the services that can get them back on their feet.”
Contracts and development for the City’s motel-voucher program are overseen by Danielle Foster, the first person to hold the newly created position of housing policy director for the City of Sacramento.
Foster has also been unavailable for comment.