The Lincoln Tunnel Motel is a family-owned, no-frills spot in North Bergen, New Jersey close to – in fact – the Lincoln Tunnel into New York City. The motel is not glamorous, nevertheless it has gained fairly a following on TikTok – not as a result of it is a vacationer vacation spot, however as a result of it is a particular place for individuals who do not have a house.
Brian Arya’s dad owns the 41-room motel. And in 2012, Brian determined to affix the household enterprise “after years and years of saying, ‘No. I’m not going down the motel route,'” he stated.
“I was doing the night shift while pursuing my acting career during the day,” Brian instructed CBS News. While this graveyard shift may’ve been less-than-inspiring work, Brian determined to include his love for creating and performing into his job.
They movie TikTok challenges. They joke about their every day duties at what they affectionately name “Motel Hell.” They bowl with visitors within the hallway utilizing disposable cups and a faux skeleton cranium. And they’ve gained greater than 822,000 followers on the platform – as a result of although most of their movies are foolish, some are inspiring.
In one video, Brian pretends to speak to his youthful self. The 16-year-old model of Brian is shocked he is working at his dad’s motel, however present-day Brian assures him “we’re helping people.”
“One day I was thinking how interesting it would be if we just gave a free night stay to anyone who followed us on TikTok,” Brian stated. “And around that time the pandemic happened.”
“People started getting quarantined, lockdowns starting happening, and then we started seeing an influx of unhoused people. You know, they just couldn’t afford rent anymore. And so, they’d come to our motel. And that just snowballed from there,” he stated.
Brian began to let anybody who wanted a spot to remain take a room without spending a dime, no questions requested. He promoted it on TikTok because the “Free Room for You” program. And if the TikTok wasn’t already well-liked, it was after.
Some of the Lincoln Tunnel Motel’s followers began pitching in by sending financial donations, meals and provides like toiletries for the individuals dwelling there.
And not solely do individuals come to the motel keep – they arrive to assist. “People will come in and not want to rent a room, but say, ‘Hey, I want to rent this for the next person.’ And that’s just incredible,” Brian stated.
When college students from an area faculty discovered the TikTok, they began donating meals from the college’s free meals pantry to the visitors on the motel. And individuals from throughout the nation have helped fulfill Brian’s Amazon wishlist – a listing of provides he copied from different comparable charities and homeless shelters.
Now that it is chilly outdoors, the motel and the individuals who donate are extra wanted than ever. “Last night it was 18 degrees. And just the other day, someone – who remained anonymous – dropped off care packages that they’ve made themselves, full of items. And they dropped off like 20 of them, just for me to give to a random person just walking off the street. Which I did, just last night,” he stated.
Brian stated he is given away 50 to 60 free rooms up to now. About half of the visitors who got here after shedding their properties at the beginning of the pandemic are nonetheless there. “There’s definitely a community there,” he stated. “Some of them are locals who have lived at the motel for a long time now … we all got to know each other.”
“Originally, I was a little shy,” stated Brian. “After 10 years of working there … you just got to talk. You just got to get to know people, get to know their stories. And I’m fortunate I get to do that.”