For San Diegans experiencing homelessness, Mayor Todd Gloria announced Friday he has identified the necessary funding to extend access at one of the city’s “safe parking” lots to 24 hours a day.
“This is yet another example of the city taking steps to lower barriers so that more people experiencing homelessness come off the streets,” Gloria said. “Creating 24-hour access to safe parking will help folks whose work and family schedules aren’t well-aligned with the current hours of operation, enabling them to not only park in a safe place but also access supportive services and get on a path to housing.”
The city’s Safe Parking Program, operated under contract by Jewish Family Service of San Diego, includes three facilities — two in Kearny Mesa and one in Mission Valley. Currently, the lots are open from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily.
Next week, the Mayor will propose the San Diego City Council approve $1.43 million to continue the program through June 30, 2023, with $440,000 going toward extending hours at the Mission Valley parking site.
The San Diego City Council will vote on the proposal on June 28. The effective date of the expanded hours has yet to be determined.
“I have seen firsthand how impactful the Safe Parking Program is in addressing the needs of our unsheltered individuals and families, and I am proud that one of these lots is in Mission Valley,” said City Councilmember Raul Campillo. “Expansion of this program to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week will allow San Diegans living out of their cars to have greater access to a safe environment with essential resources.”
The Safe Parking Program has served nearly 2,200 households since it started in 2018, and roughly 650 households to date have transitioned from the program to permanent housing, shelter, or family reunification.
The program provides a welcoming environment, resources and tools, and support to help families stabilize and transition into more permanent housing. With services focused on basic needs assistance, employment, family wellness, school success, financial education, and housing, the program’s goal is to create a pathway out of homelessness while being a support to people where they are now.
“We are committed to changing the narrative around homelessness,” said Michael Hopkins, CEO of Jewish Family Service. “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.
“At JFS, we seek to continually learn more about the impact of our services,” he said. “We received valuable recommendations from UC San Diego’s evaluation of our program, and we are pleased to start putting them into action with the hours expansion at our Mission Valley lot.”
In 2019, researchers from UC San Diego’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning began a three-year evaluation of the Safe Parking Program to review the program’s effectiveness and recommendations for improvement. Key findings to date include:
- For 70% of program participants, this is their first time experiencing homelessness
- More than 25% of program participants are older than 60, with nearly half older than 50
- 20% of participants are members of families with children, and a little more than 14% of clients are younger than 20
“Our research showed that the JFS Safe Parking Program is one of the largest and most comprehensive programs of its kind in the U.S. It is a critical tool in our collective toolbox for addressing homelessness in San Diego,” said Mirle Rabinowitz-Bussell, co-director of the new Homelessness Hub at UC San Diego and a co-author of the report. “It is our fervent hope that all San Diegans — and all people everywhere — be healthy, safe, secure and stably housed.”