Safe Parking Programs Act (H.R. 2965) and S. 3788 (Section 301)

U.S. Senate bill: S. 3788 (Section 301), introduced by Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) — Housing for All Act

Committees:

Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Status:

The legislation has not yet been formally considered.

U.S. House bill: H.R. 2965, introduced by Representatives Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24) and Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-1) — The Safe Parking Programs Act

Committees:

House Committee on Financial Services

Status:

H.R. 2965 has not yet been considered by the House Committee on Financial Services.

Impact

Safe parking programs provide homeless persons who live in their vehicles with safe places to park and reside in their vehicles overnight to help them transition to more stable housing.  The Alliance supports the Safe Parking Programs Act (H.R. 2965), which would require the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide grants to interested local governments to establish or expand safe parking programs that lead to permanent housing. 

The five-year grants of up to $5 million may be used to establish and operate safe parking programs, provide permanent rehousing assistance to families and individuals using the safe parking program, employ staff who maintain the safety and health of participants, establish and maintain the operation of hygiene facilities and restrooms for participants, maintain the vehicles of participants using a safe parking program and provide gas so that their vehicles may be driven to places that will help them obtain or maintain housing, and enter data into the HUD’s Homeless Management Information System.  If a grantee determines that a safe parking program is no longer necessary, such eligible entity may, after approval from HUD, use any amounts provided under this section for activities that are eligible for the use of the emergency solutions grant program.

Vehicular residency is one of the fastest-growing forms of homelessness. Estimates show that in some counties, like Los Angeles, about a quarter of homeless individuals are living out of their vehicles. While cars, trucks, and RVs can be cost-effective alternatives for those facing homelessness in places with some of the nation’s steepest rents, they lack bathrooms and showers – key amenities for people with jobs but no home. Vehicular homelessness is often a short-term condition, due to an unexpected expense or sudden loss. Safe Parking Programs provide a quick intervention to possibly mitigate Americans from falling deeper into the cycle of homelessness. Sleeping in vehicles on most city streets is illegal and often leaves inhabitants vulnerable to harassment and violence.

Many cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Portland, and St. Paul, have active safe parking programs. Most of the nation’s existing safe parking programs include overnight security guards to ensure the safety of residents. Additionally, they provide rehousing and case management services to these individuals, which are designed to facilitate a transition to permanent housing. Other cities are exploring the idea of establishing or expanding safe parking programs as part of comprehensive strategies to help people experiencing homelessness.  Federal funds would boost the prospects for additional safe parking programs in communities where vehicular homelessness is prevalent and ensure that they are more than just holding areas for homeless families and individuals.

This legislation, which was introduced by Representative Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24), was amended to eliminate the grant program and instead allow safe parking lots to be eligible for Emergency Solutions Grants funding.  The original Carbajal bill was included in Section 301 of S. 3788.

Summary

Safe parking programs provide homeless persons living in their vehicles with a safe place to park and reside in their vehicles overnight to facilitate a transition to more stable housing. An amended version of The Safe Parking Programs Act (H.R. 2965) would allow Emergency Solutions Grants funding to be used to pay for safe parking programs, and it was approved by the House Financial Services Committee on July 28. 

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