The following is the first in a two-part series exploring Manchester's semi-permenant housing options.
The Cadillac Motel is a big place — bigger than you might think. Looking at the front of the building from the intersection of Chestnut and Bridge streets, I never would have guessed that there are 78 rooms crammed inside Manchester’s most well-known flophouse:
Rents for these 78 rooms range between $70 and $145 per week, according to a gentleman named Bill, the manager on duty when I stopped by recently. The cheapest rooms are located deep within the bowels of the building. They do not come with private bathrooms, nor windows. And as what is now the Cadillac was built in 1900, the building does not have air conditioning, making these interior rooms, in Bill’s words, “hot as hell” this time of year.
This is Bill (note the awesome Cadillac Motel T-shirt he's wearing):
On the upper end of the scale are the rooms on the building’s exterior. They generally include refrigerators and televisions, though Bill says it's not uncommon for the latter to be a absconded by tenants in a "midnight move" situation:
These higher priced rooms also include en suite bathrooms:
They also have access to the building’s balcony and the view it affords:
Tenants are either individuals or couples — no children allowed. Most, Bill said, are on some form of Social Security, mainly disability. The average stay, he said, is about one year, though he noted he has two tenants who have been there 13 or 14 years.
"For a night or a lifetime,” indeed:
Asked where his tenants come from, Bill said he gets a lot of previously homeless directly from the overnight shelter at New Horizons. He admits that the Cadillac is “pretty basic,” but notes that it is a definite step up from the shelter, where individuals are forced to vacate the premises each morning.
He said others come from the city’s other rooming houses including Cathedral Manor and Abbey Rooms, just a couple of blocks away Pine Street:
“We keep in contact with one another,” he said of these competitors of the Cadillac's. “We let each other know who’s left our place and might be coming their way. A lot of people tend to make the rounds between all of us.”