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What LA's safe parking pilot program for the homeless would look like




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With Los Angeles’ latest homeless numbers up 6 percent from last year, LA officials are looking for new solutions.

One possible idea can be found in Santa Barbara. It's called safe parking, and it allows homeless people who live in a car or RV to park overnight with permission from the city.

The program has been in-place there for 12 years, and it could soon be tested here in LA.

LA City Councilman Mike Bonin joined the show with more.

Interview highlights:

How LA’s pilot program would work:

“It’s a program I’ve been trying to get down here in Los Angeles for a long time, and my predecessor did as well. I think there is finally some momentum for it. The way it works is, I think it is important to dispel the misconception. Some folks would imagine we’re opening up parking lots to football-sized stadiums full of vehicles, and it’s not that, it’s not a big RV park. What they do in Santa Barbara is they have a number of scattered sites, three to five vehicles per lot, run by a social service agency in Santa Barbara. Folks are given an assigned spot that only they can use for certain hours of the day and a certain period of time, and in exchange for their participation in that program they don’t park in front of somebody’s residence or business overnight, and they also get counseling and a housing voucher. So in Santa Barbara, it’s a step and part of the path towards getting back into housing.”

How many of LA’s homeless live in a vehicle:

“LAHSA, The Homeless Services Authority, came out with their top line numbers yesterday, which didn’t break it down to vehicles, but we do think that the number of people living in their vehicles has gone up. County-wide last year, there were about 3,000. I think there’s over, probably 1,000 in Los Angeles, maybe 1,500. So obviously this program isn’t going to take care of everybody right away. I imagine the way that this program will start is a number of councilmembers will pick some locations in their districts, churches and synagogues and mosques will volunteer to provide sites, and there will be 20 or 30 pilots around the city of Los Angeles to get the program started. We’ve already worked with LAHSA, the Homeless Services Authority, and the Mayor and his budget to make sure that there is money available for the vouchers so that it’s actually a real program that does provide the pathway.”

On when the program would start:

“I’d like to see it start as soon as possible. We are doing the budget this week and next, and there’s money in it for the pilot program for safe parking. The Homeless Services Authority has been given the assignment a few months ago to come up with the contours of the program and have someone run it, an agency. They have an agency in Santa Barbara that does it, and so they’re looking for that now. So I’m hoping that we can get this up and running by the end of summer at the latest.”     

To listen to the full interview, click on the blue audio player above.