September 14, 2018

'It's the New Form of Affordable Housing': More People Are Living in Their Cars

Governing Daily recently published an article on the rise of “vehicular homeless” - individuals residing in their vehicles in many major cities from Los Angeles to Portland, Ore., to San Francisco. The issue is of particular concern on the West Coast, where rents have skyrocketed and the number of homeless people who do not live in shelters is up 20,000 from 2015 to 2017.

One solution outlined is a safe parking program, which two cities, San Diego and Santa Barbara, have successfully implemented. Dreams of Change, a local nonprofit based in San Diego, helps the homeless population by providing a safe parking lot for overnight parking. In addition, the nonprofit links the individual with a case manager to help them secure long-term housing. The program has expanded to three lots, serving between 30 and 60 cars in each. The lots aim to feel like community centers with spots to cook simple meals and charge electronics.

Santa Barbara’s safe parking program has been operational for more than a decade and started because a growing number of people living in recreational vehicles (RVs) kept getting ticketed. Like San Diego, Santa Barbara relies heavily on case management when a vehicle comes into the lot.

While homeless advocates say safe parking programs are a necessity in cities with large numbers of people living in their cars, they stress that they are just a band-aid solution for a larger problem: lack of affordable housing across the country.

To read the full article, click here.