Solutions for car dwellers and other signs of the times


Parking lotToday’s #31bnb challenge task is to write a reaction to something in the news. I am still finding that news about community design is hard to dig up on a web search. Today’s hunt led me to the Next American City’s website.

An article posted there describes a new initiative in Los Angeles to help homeless people. The city plans to provide safe parking areas for homeless residents sleeping in cars or RVs. The city would contract with owners of parking lots and also service providers so that bathrooms, shower facilities and access to other city resources,like counseling, would be provided at the sites. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) would manage the program with three to five vehicles occupying each site. The city would also assist the residents with finding permanent housing. The city hopes to implement it by October as a pilot for one year. Santa Barbara, CA and Eugene OR have run similar programs. (source)

I would guess that for many families sleeping in a car is the first step into homelessness but not the first step on the raod to a scary situation. A car is probably one of the last major possessions families are willing to give up in their struggle to remain in control of their lives. Not only does it provide a place to sleep, there is some sense of safety within a car. Plus, in LA most people need a car to get around and to get to work. I would hope that the LAHSA would outreach to the families and encourage law enforcement to make families aware of the program instead of burdening them with parking tickets.

Some questions that I imagine will rise: How long will a family be allowed to park in the site? Will the LAHSA act as a landlord over the spaces managing trash and toilet facilities? Is there permanent housing available that these people can actually afford? How do you prevent a flood of people form outside of the city coming in to take advantage of this program? What is the citu doing to alleviate the root causes of someone becoming homless?

The economy has brought many families to a reality they once never considered. This is one example of what seems to be a low-cost solution to a very real problem.

Would you be in favor of this action in your city?

More on this by USC’s Annenberg School