Safe Parking Program – Summary

Homeless Action is a group of individuals who are striving to explore practical short and long term solutions to the needs of our sisters and brothers who do not have decent housing.

See also the Sonoma County Task Force for the Homeless and the county Continuum of Care for thorough coverage of these issues.

This was the original concept of Safe Parking.  Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa has developed this into a program described here.

The Press Democrat April 15, 2014 

What is Safe Parking?
Homeless individuals often find it necessary to sleep in their vehicles when there are no other alternatives. However, sleeping in vehicles on the street is frequently either prohibited by law or is unsafe.

The immediate objective of Safe Parking is to provide safe places to park and sleep so that participants are not in danger of citation or harassment. The long-term goal of Safe Parking is to assist participants in securing permanent housing.

How it Works:
Generally, the spaces at each site are limited in number and are specifically designated. Pre-screened participants are assigned a specific spot and, in the case of private locations, are given placards to display on their vehicles. Participants follow rules about arrival and departure times, personal behavior and care of the site and any facilities they have been given access to (such as bathrooms). The emphasis is on maintaining a low-profile that does not impact other operations at the site or disturb its neighbors.

Public Spaces: A county or city may designate a publically-owned property for Safe Parking. This can be for a limited or extended period of time and can be administered by itself or by another agency. Here in Sonoma County, such a pilot program is underway (Winter 2014) at the Fairgrounds where 50 spaces have been set aside and are being administered by Catholic Charities.

Private Spaces: Churches, non-profits and businesses may also allow Safe Parking on their properties. The number of spaces offered at each location is generally fewer than at public locations–usually one to seven–depending on the site. Permitted hours of parking and other rules are tailored to meet the requirements of the specific site or business. Some businesses and organizations allow Safe Parking on an informal basis; some establish a relationship with a specific social service and provide spaces only to its clients; and others participate in centralized programs where help is offered to participants from the entire community.  See here.

Centralized Safe Parking Programs: A Centralized Safe Parking Program can serve either public or private sites or both. In such programs, screening is an important component of the process. Prospective participants do not come directly to the sites but apply with the administering agency. The agency’s counselors evaluate the participants’ needs, determine what other social services might be of benefit to them and decide whether the candidates are likely to be successful as Safe Parking participants. Only then are individuals directed to the parking site. Likewise, the agency is available to follow up if problems arise. In Santa Rosa, Catholic Charities has been selected to play this administrating role.

If You Participate:
If you or your organization is considering participating, you will have many questions and concerns not addressed in this over-view. We would be happy to meet with you to answer your questions and shape a program that works for your site. Thank you for considering being a Safe Parking provider.

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