Hotel owners provide rooms, give homeless a place to stay
MONTROSE — Tye Terrell and Rena Turn are nearly 1,000 miles from where they once called home. They drove their white 1994 Ford Explorer from small dust-blown Stillwell, Okla., to Montrose to look for work. Now they are part of a growing homeless population in the Montrose area.
They both worked for a company that was hired to remodel Montrose’s Wal-Mart Supercenter. They began work in April and were happy making $11 to $12 an hour. They even got an extra $140 in their paycheck for meals.
Life, they thought, was good.
The company they worked for was bought and sold three different times during the course of their three-month job. By the end of June, when the Wal-Mart remodel was complete, Terrell and Turn were left jobless and, as a result, homeless.
“It’s been scary and stressful,” Turn said.
Now they call the Affordable Inn in Montrose home, thanks to owners Jodi and John Holland. Tye and Rena get to live in a room in exchange for maintenance work.
Jodi Holland has seen an increase in the homeless population in the six years she has lived in Montrose. She and John also own Affordable Inn in Grand Junction and the Briarwood Inn in Montrose.
“I think the problem is bigger than we know,” she said.
The couple recently decided to open the Briarwood Inn on East Main Street to homeless residents. They plan to provide housing and two meals a day because they feel it could be a real solution. But they lack community support and funding. The Briarwood Inn has 27 rooms with 40 beds, most of which sit empty.
The Hollands are seeking 501(c)3 financial status so tax-free charitable donations can be accepted to help run the motel. They also have plans to build a commercial kitchen. They want other motel owners in the area to consider providing similar services.
“Homelessness is a circumstance. It is not a characteristic of who we are as people,” Jodi Holland said.
Terrell and Turn said they have no plans to return to Oklahoma. Not that they could. The transmission in their Ford is failing, and they said they don’t have the money to pay for repairs.
“We love the people here in Montrose. They’re so nice,” Turn said.
Terrell said he wants to open a business building pole barns, and Turn has her sights set on finding a job.
They said they see a lot of people with similar stories come and go from the motel. To them it’s a constant reminder of just how good they have it in Room 111.