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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 24, 2022
SAN DIEGO – Continuing his efforts to improve and expand housing, shelter and services for San Diegans experiencing homelessness, Mayor Todd Gloria announced today that 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,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “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. every day. Next week, the Mayor will propose that the City Council approve roughly $1.43 million to continue the program through June 30, 2023, with $440,000 going toward extending hours at the Mission Valley site.
The City Council will vote on the proposal on June 27; 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, District 7,” 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. I have been a strong supporter of the Safe Parking Program and will continue to advocate for more funding to increase the number of lots we provide and the services we offer at each site. I appreciate Mayor Gloria’s proposal to increase funding and potentially help more San Diegans transition to more permanent housing.”
The Safe Parking Program has served nearly 2,200 households since it started in 2018, and roughly 650 households to date have been connected directly from the program to permanent housing, shelter or family reunification.
The program provides a welcoming environment, meaningful resources and tools, and dignified support to help families stabilize and transition back into more permanent housing. With holistic 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 of San Diego. “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. 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. We are grateful to Mayor Gloria for expanding this program and helping us provide support before vulnerable families and individuals find themselves on the streets.”
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 percent of program participants, this is their first time experiencing homelessness.
- More than 25 percent of program participants are older than 60, with nearly half older than 50.
- 20 percent of participants are members of families with children, and a little more than 14 percent of clients are younger than 20.
The report’s overall recommendations included providing “24-hour access for at least one lot,” in part based on listening-session feedback from Safe Parking Program clients who overwhelmingly indicated support for increased access to the lots during the day. Additional benefits include reduced fuel and vehicle maintenance costs for participants and greater opportunities for interaction with case managers.
“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,” 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.”
“We are pleased that our report findings could contribute to the Mayor’s decision to increase the hours of the Safe Parking Program,” added Leslie Lewis, co-director of the Homelessness Hub and a co-author of the report. “Research is made meaningful through its policy, practice and human impacts."
Mayor Gloria created the Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department (HSSD) in 2021 to increase efficiency and accountability when it comes to homelessness-services programs. The new contract for Safe Parking will be administered by HSSD.