People who are in-between housing are often living in their cars. It can be an unsafe and nerve wracking experience. This is one of the most acute forms of the ‘hidden homeless’.
What can be done?
A volunteer HSN team has connected with local faith communities, housing service providers, and the police to setup a safe and discreet place for eligible people to park overnight.
This network is aiming to be open by September 1, 2021.
How does it work?
Faith communities are able to customize the program that they want to see, and have capacity to do well. Each parking host chooses who they are serving with their resources. For example, a congregation can choose to only serve single mothers with kids. The basic needs are: a parking lot, a portable bathroom, hygiene station, and educated volunteers to participate. Generally, the buildings are not open for use and RVs are not allowed. Beyond signing in guests, volunteers can engage as much or as little as desired, however many find it a great opportunity to share stories and talk about their faith work.
People seeking this resource are referred to the network through direct outreach or through a service organization. The exact parking lots are kept private to honor the privacy of the participants. However, the hosting organization, service providers, and the police are all informed and provide regular support. Generally, the parking lot is only open from the late afternoon to the following morning for parking.
Who else is doing this?
The most successful program in our region is at the
Lake Washington United Methodist Church in Kirkland, WA. Their program has grown to support many on their journey to permanent housing, all the while fulfilling their religious convictions.
Is this allowed?
Yep. A recent amendment to Washington code created more space for religious organizations to host people in-between permanent housing without local bureaucracy blocking the effort.
When there is no housing, people are left to make it however they’re able. Sleeping in the car is uncomfortable enough – we can at least provide a safe place to park.