The National Center on Family Homelessness estimated this month that 1.5 million U.S. children were homeless at one time or another between 2005 and 2006. The center also says America's homelessness problem is likely to worsen this year because of foreclosures and job losses due to the ongoing recession.
Some middle class families have lost their homes, and because they cannot afford high rent, now are moving into low-cost motels.
Johnny, Tammy Garza and their four children are calling a motel room their home. "It's actually hard to have this many people in a small room like this," Johnny said.
The Garzas are joining a new class of Americans who are victims of the nation's financial crisis. They now live in cheap motel rooms.
"We have two burners over there and we have a little toaster oven to cook with and we have all the pots and pans," Tammy said.
In a drive across America, you can see old motels in many communities. They offer a less expensive, temporary night's stay. There are many reports that for a growing number of homeless families, motel rooms are no longer temporary.
"We're seeing more families. We're seeing more intact families that are suffering from the economy," Jim Palmer said. Palmer is with Orange County Rescue Mission.
Jonathan Emison and his girlfriend were lucky. They had the rare opportunity to move from a motel to a subsidized apartment. A motel room may be a better option than living out of a car, but Emison says there still are dangers for families.
"You never know when you're going to have a gang come in," Emison said. "You never know when there's going to be a pedophile."
The Garzas hope to move to an apartment within a few months.
"Last month, Tammy said. "I was blessed with a job at a hospital."
There already is a list of homeless families waiting to move into the Garza's motel room. Unless the economy improves, that list may get longer.