Sep 5, 2013 1:24 AM by Victoria Johnson
For the past year, the Prado Day Center has worked with the City of San Luis Obispo on a pilot program to help homeless people working toward finding housing and a job with steady income.
Tuesday night, the City Council approved a program that provides a temporary living situation for homeless people.
The 5-0 vote in favor of the safe parking ordinance will now allow the pilot program to become permanent.
"Prior to this, I had to find a spot to park. I'm homeless," says Jim Carter, participant in the Safe Parking Program.
Currently, it is illegal to sleep in a vehicle on the streets of San Luis Obispo.
"I'm nervous about someone getting into my car or being rousted by the local policemen just doing their job. You can't rest, you can't relax," says Carter.
The ordinance allows certain organizations to offer up spaces for people to spend the night in their cars.
"This is the safe and lawful place. You can park live in your vehicle," says Dee Torres, Homeless Services Director, CAPSLO.
The program benefits people like Jim. He is working with a case manager at the Prado Day Center to become self-sufficient, and to find permanent housing.
"I'm working. I need a good night sleep so this has helped me get that. Plus, it is a safe refuge so to speak. I can come here and relax and know that I can be in my vehicle and read and prepare for the next day and it does benefit quite a bit," says Carter.
Under the new ordinance, the Prado Day Center can apply to make the five spots of the pilot program permanent and request two more.
"It will be an ongoing program as long as we can keep it funded," says Torres.
Funding will be needed from the city and community to keep the program going.
If the demand grows in the future, the Prado Day Center is considering looking at partnerships with other organizations, or starting a new parking program in a different location. Organizations and homeless service providers interested in the same type of program will also be given the opportunity to apply. Currently, Santa Barbara and Ventura have similar safe parking programs.
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