Local Family Claims They Were Discriminated Against By Hotel Owner
NORMAN, Oklahoma - A metro mother is calling out the OU Motel, after she said the owner called her family bunch of "dead beats."
The woman said her son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and the family has been fighting to keep a roof over their heads.
The family is enrolled in a federal grant program called the Emergency Services Grant.
It pays their rent while they find permanent housing.
The family wants to remain anonymous because they fear scrutiny and backlash.
They said the owner of the motel said she was tired of them “mooching off of her tax dollars” after seeing the government check.
But to tell this story, we have to travel a few years back.
They family’s mobile home was crushed by a tree. They said they have not been able to recover, and have struggled to find a place to live.
“That's all I want is a home, cause we are losing the home we have,” said the family.
The grant paid for the motel room advance.
But local advocacy groups have taken this conversation a bit deeper.
“It’s disgusting that we still have people with this kind of thinking in this country at this age and time. Truth is, most of us (people with disabilities and their families) don't even like having to depend on various assistance to help us out, but with a broken system in Oklahoma, we just have no choice,” said Richard Anderson, Chairman of OK ADAPT.
They said the reason families are forced to live in temporary rooms is largely because there is a lack of affordable housing in Oklahoma for those with disabilities.
“In 2016, in the healthcare authority's annual report they only did 189 home modifications statewide, with over 30,000 people with disabilities on Medicaid,” said Jeff Hughes of Progressive Independence.
The family said they had tried to find an apartment before moving into the motel, but were unable to.
The picked the OU Motel because of pricing, and stayed there just short of six weeks. Now, they won’t go back, and worry others with disabilities will be treated the same way.
“How is she going to treat someone that is like him, or even worse. That's not right. You can't do that to people,” the family said.
The add the owner did call to apologize, but that it was too little too late.
The City of Norman acknowledges there is an issue with affordable housing options and offered this statement:
“The City of Norman takes the needs of Norman's disability community very seriously. We agree that there is a need for more affordable, accessible housing in Norman and are proud to be making strides towards correcting this issue with new developments such as the Vicksburg Project and the Hughbert Project that opened for low to moderate income residents earlier this year.
"We understand there is still much work to be done towards correcting this issue in our city and are grateful for input from Norman’s disability community. We rely on their partnership to develop strategies for improvement such as our Impediments to Fair Housing Choice Plan, which is updated every five years with input from groups such as OK Adapt and Progressives Independents. We look forward to continuing our work with these groups and dedicated non-profits to reach our goal of building a more inclusive community."
As for the family, they have found a place to stay tonight.
News 9 also reached out to the owner of the motel. The business never returned our call.