During the day, Denise worked as a hotel housekeeper in South Carolina, earning $9.95 an hour. At night, she supplemented her income with a second job, cleaning the office of a brand-name technology company. That job, which paid $8 an hour with no benefits, nosed her household just over the official poverty line.
On most nights, Denise would finish her workday at 10 pm, twelve hours after starting it. Then she returned home to a roach-infested room at the Masters Inn motel outside Charleston, South Carolina. She shared the single motel room with her mother, Bella, and her kids, Owen, Jackie and Mila.
Though Denise was paying more for the motel room—$230 a week—than she would have for an apartment, it was impossible with her wages to save enough to put a deposit down.
“I try to save money up, and days that I’m off, I look for apartments that can help me out,” she said. “They want the money straight up. Like, the whole package.”
photo Elizabeth Lloyd Fladung / orignal reporting by Leighton Akio Woodhouse
but our country only has enough homes for one in four people.
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