Each night at 6 p.m., San Diego’s New Life Assembly church opens its parking lot to dozens of people who will spend the night in their cars. The church is one of three sites in the city where the homeless can park overnight without fear of being ticketed or towed—or worse. It’s part of a citywide safe parking program started in 2010 to confront an increasingly visible face of the state’s homelessness epidemic: Californians sleeping in their cars.
As housing costs soar in major cities, more Americans are living behind the wheel. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development doesn’t collect national data on vehicle residency, but unsheltered homelessness—a category that includes people sleeping in vehicles—is on the rise. In 2016, HUD counted 176,357 unsheltered people nationwide on a single night; last year, that number jumped to 192,875. In King County, Washington (which includes Seattle), about 3,372 people—more than half of the county’s unsheltered population—are living in vehicles. And in Greater Los Angeles, which has the largest unsheltered homeless population in the country, more than 15,000 people live in cars, vans, and RVs.
It is definitely out of the box thinking, but not sure that is the best solution. It would be better if these folks were housed cheaply somehow so that they can get rid of the car expense so that they can get perhaps get back on the road to solvency. Yes, it will be hard.
Don’t we all see homeless people with dogs or they carry cell phones. Uh, you can’t even feed/house yourself so why did you have a dog? Honestly, why do you need a cell phone? That is just more money out of your welfare checks that could go to better use. And let’s not mention the drugs, alcohol and cigarette use…
Pretty much all judges I am finding are useless. They simply are not enforcing the laws on the books. Whether it is punishing 3 strikers or stuff like this. What is the point of these laws if you aren’t going to enforce them?
That’s because any law that doesn’t have equal outcomes for all people is racist. People assume the percent of people arrested and guilty of crimes should exactly follow country demographics. They completely ignore differences in behavior, and blame everything on differences in enforcement. It’s quite alarming.
Vice: The Hidden Homelessness Crisis In California
There is a shortage of affordable housing in every state in the country, but it’s especially bad in California — where there’s only one affordable housing unit for every five extremely low income households.
The gap is not only pushing more and more people out onto the streets—it’s also creating a new, fast-growing, and hidden class of homelessness: People who in the past would have been able to afford a room or apartment but now live in their cars by necessity.
Danielle Williams is one of them. She’s a single working mother who has been living in her van with her daughter for five years. At first, it meant sleeping in dark, scarcely populated areas, and being hassled by the police. But thanks to a program called Safe Parking — a network of parking lots equipped with porta-potties and lot monitors — she can now stay in her car overnight without worrying about her safety.
VICE News traveled to California to see how the new program is helping people like Danielle live a little more comfortably, and met with a government official who’s frustrated there aren’t longer term solutions to help the roughly 16,000 people in Los Angeles who now sleep in their cars.