The San Diego City Council‘s Rules Committee Wednesday moved forward a plan to open a safe parking lot in the Clairemont neighborhood for people who sleep overnight in campers or other vehicles.
“Safe Parking is a tool that can keep people from losing their home of last resort and winding up on our streets,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “This program expansion will put to good use the trailers provided to us by the state and give folks more space to live while they work to find permanent housing.”
The Rules Committee advanced the proposal to the full City Council next week. Under the proposal, Jewish Family Service of San Diego would operate the lot, located near the city’s Rose Canyon Operations Yard. It will operate 24 hours a day and provide access to services to “secure employment, financial stability and more on their path to long-term housing,” a city statement reads.
The city’s Safe Parking program includes the Mission Valley site and two additional locations in Kearny Mesa. The two latter lots are open from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day. In 2022, Gloria proposed the council approve around $1.43 million to continue the program through June 30, 2023, with $440,000 going toward extending hours at the Mission Valley site.
The proposed Clairemont location will provide 15 spaces for parking, as well as 12 camper trailers for Safe Parking participants to live in as they work to end their homelessness. The trailers come equipped with beds, showers and bathrooms and were provided to cities by the state as part of its emergency response to the homelessness crisis.
Combined, the four lots will provide space for up to 233 households sleeping overnight in standard vehicles and RVs and now 12 camper trailers. The new lot is anticipated to cost $474,000 through the end of June and around $975,000 annually.
“We are committed to changing the narrative around homelessness,” said Michael Hopkins, CEO of Jewish Family Service of San Diego when the program expanded last year. “Many San Diegans are an income reduction, major health issue or other unexpected emergency away from being unable to maintain a stable place to live, and initiatives like the Safe Parking Program are vital to prevent those who have lost their housing from falling deeper into homelessness.”
In 2019, researchers from UC San Diego’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning began a three-year evaluation of the program to review the program’s effectiveness and recommendations for improvement.
The study found that for 70% of program participants, this is their first time experiencing homelessness. More than 25% of those using the lots are older than 60, with nearly half older than 50. Additionally, 20% of participants are members of families with children, and more than 14% of clients are younger than 20.
The UCSD report recommended providing “24-hour access for at least one lot,” in part based on feedback from program clients who overwhelmingly indicated support for increased access to the lots during the day.
City News Service contributed to this article.