The children gather at dusk on the pitted motel parking lot, hard against the sound wall of the freeway. They kick a scuffed soccer ball and play with the stray dogs they have rescued. One holds a cockroach he pretends is a pet turtle.

Eddie Martinez, 14, rides his bike among them, happy they are back from school. Since he quit going to class several months before, he spends his days sitting on the breezeway at the top of the stairs waiting for them.

In the dim light and freeway exhaust of San Bernardino’s Country Inn, he has friends and a piece of a normal childhood.

The problem of children growing up without a secure place to call home is growing worse nationwide.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.