ASHLAND, Ore. — A couple who's been living in their car is speaking out after they were denied service at "Ashland Motel" Thursday evening.
Jason and Vanessa Houk , organizers with Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice were contacted by Lisa and James Yancy during the organization's community meal that is done Thursdays at Pioneer Hall in Ashland.
"They reached out to us and they were in a really bad state and James was struggling with the flu, they didn't have any shelter and they were in a real desperate state." Houx said, "After talking and hearing about their situation we thought well that's something that our organization could help with."
Houk explained renting a room for the couple was made possible through fundraisers during the holiday season specifically for putting elders, veterans and vulnerable people into shelter.
After speaking with the couple, the Houk family made a room reservation under Yancy's name, paid for the room on a credit card and received a confirmation. After everything was finalized, the Houk family sent Lisa and James to the Ashland Motel under the assumption they'd stay the night. However, things did not go as planned and the couple was turned away.
According to Lisa Yancy, she said she felt she and her husband were discriminated against. Her husband, James Yancy, is a person of color and a Gulf War veteran who is sick with the flu.
"I walked into the hotel and the first thing he did was look at me up and down and just stared at me like I was nothing," said Lisa Yancy.
According to Yancy, the manager also refused to let them borrow the motel's phone to reach the Houk family and inform them of the situation.
Houk said, "First we heard something about them needing a deposit and them needing a credit card and then the story kind of changed, in actuality, they were not going to provide service for this couple because they did not have a credit card in their name for the payment." Houk went on to say that the manager was insisting that the people placing the order had to stay there.
Houk and his wife Vanessa went to the motel themselves to see what the issue was because they have never had trouble in the past and states the motel has always been really accommodating to vulnerable communities.
"The manager was really adamant about this new policy, new owners, and that they require all payments with a credit card that the person paying for the room has to be the one staying in the room and furthermore, they don't rent to locals period," Houk said.
When asked to get a copy of the policy, the motel was unable to provide one.
Yancy expressed she was in shock to be denied service and mentioned it was bad timing.
"I work, I have a job, it was just bad timing for us," said Yancy.
After being denied service at Ashland Motel, the couple found a motel in Talent that was accommodating. With the help of United Way, the couple will be able to stay at the Good Night Inn for a week.
James, who was homeless in Arizona moved to Southern Oregon to get assistance from the VA and other resources to help get back on his feet.
"I just wanted to tell everyone who helped us thank you, and God is good," said Lisa Yancy.
The manager of the Ashland Motel said he was advised by his attorney to not comment on the matter.