San Francisco Opening Parking Lot for Homeless Living in Vehicles

MIAMI - FEBRUARY 24: Mary Trody and her daughter, Annie Thomas, sit together in a van they
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San Francisco’s homeless population living in vehicles has increased 45 percent in the last year, and now the city is opening a parking lot to accommodate some of them.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that an estimated 1,700 people fall into that category and that the city wants to accommodate this sector of the homeless by setting up a pilot program.

The parking lot, located near the Balboa Park Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station, is set to open in the coming days and will allow 30 vehicles to park for 90 days.

The Chronicle reported on the development, including the amenities at the lot and criticism of the program: 

The lot is being dubbed a “Vehicle Triage Center,” where people will have daily access to case managers, portable toilets and a portable shower three times a week. While city officials hail it as a productive first step toward addressing vehicular homelessness, others see it as an inadequate response to the crisis and a veiled attempt to clear RVs from residential neighborhoods.

“Thirty parking spots for all of these RVs?” Stephanie Brown told the Chronicle as she sat on a couch outside of her trailer. “You’ve got to be high.”

Urban Alchemy will provide security for the lot.

“This is a start,” said Lena Miller, CEO of the non-profit. “I don’t think it’s a solution.”

“We’re throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks,” Miller said in the Chronicle report.

Case managers will also visit the site to provide referrals to shelters, addiction treatment, and mental health care, according to the Chronicle.

“San Francisco’s overall homeless population has grown 17 percent in the past two years, much of that attributed to people using their vehicles for shelter,” the Chronicle reported. “Vehicular homelessness has become prevalent all over the West Coast and other cities, like Oakland, have opened up similar lots to address the issue.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed has said she wants to add 1,000 shelter beds to the city’s inventory by the end of next year, according to the Chronicle.

The parking lot is temporary, however, because it is the site for a future affordable housing project.

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