“You Don't Know What You've Got Until They Get in There”: Older Residents' Perspectives of Budget Hotels As Micro-Communities of Affiliation
Methods: In this qualitative study, a purposive sample of 15 low-income older adults aged 49-64, were recruited to participate in this study to understand the residential context of budget hotels and health. Participants earned less than $33,000 annually, and lived exclusively in a budget hotel an average of 59 weeks as a result of housing displacement. Data were gathered using photo-elicitation techniques, which are effective in allowing participants to visually describe their physical and social worlds using photographic images during in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Interviews, lasting between 60-90 minutes, were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. AtlasTi 5.5 qualitative data analysis software was used to code and analyze transcripts, photographs, and analytic memos.
Findings: Two themes of affiliation within the budget hotel micro-community emerged from the data: socio-spatial and temporal. The socio-spatial micro-community affiliation consisted of people who were insiders at the hotel (rulers, heroes, undesirables) and people who were outsiders in the hotel neighborhood (scammers, harassers, healers). The temporal micro-community affiliation referred to tenured resident identities (long-termers, weekenders, and night crawlers). Occasioned interactions between people within these two domains of micro-community affiliation created dynamic, and often disturbing, contexts that influenced older adult health and wellbeing.
Conclusions and Implications: Findings of this study highlight subgroup affiliations among residents at budget hotels and micro-community interactions that influence health and well-being for older adults. From this research, practitioners can learn about socio-spatial and temporal affiliations that hinder a sense of community and contribute to poorer resident health management and health outcomes. Additionally, positive affiliations that exist within these micro-communities are identified as resources for community building and resource development for older residents. This research also expands the literature on communities that house an understudied population of low-income older adults.