A growing number of families who’ve lost their homes in California’s Orange County have been left to ride out the recession in rented motel rooms. Though motel families exist everywhere, Orange County’s combination of high rents, paucity of public housing, and surfeit of motel rooms once destined for Disneyland visitors have made them especially prevalent in the coastal county. Entire families can sometimes spend months, even years, living out of the cramped quarters, paying anywhere between $800 and $1,200 a month for what amounts to little more than life in a shelter. “The motels have become the de facto low-income housing of Orange County,” says Wally Gonzales, the director of Project Dignity, a local non-profit organization that assists motel families.
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