Instead of saying "not in my backyard," a group of five Oakland churches is saying bring them here -- in essence opening their parking lots to homeless college students and homeless families living out of their vehicles.
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Ten parking spots in the back of Williams Chapel Baptist Church will soon be home every night to 10 homeless Laney college students. Thirty-six have already applied.
AlamedaCounty Supervisor Wilma Chan said, "They're going to be screening them and having them sign codes of conduct so we hope this site will be open within the week."
The Interfaith Council of Alameda County is organizing this outreach effort.
Money from the city and the county will fund a security guard, freshwater and bathrooms overnight every day for 90-day stints in five church parking lots.
Reverend King Chambers with the Interfaith Council of Alameda County said, "We will have funds to allow minor repairs to be done to clients cars and help them expunge their parking tickets."
Corinthian Baptist Church will open 15 parking spaces to homeless families in early April and then spaces will open up at Westside Missionary Baptist Church, Mount Zion Baptist Church and Pleasant Grove Baptist Church by the end of the month.
A homeless man named Anthony, on the verge of living out of his car with his two dogs, praised the plan as a "beautiful thing." He said he wished there were more than just five churches doing something.
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A 36-year-old homeless woman named Amanda living out of her car said a legitimate place to park at night would be a slice of heaven. She said, "It's hard to get fresh water every day and we have to watch out for the police all the time. If churches are willing to do that, I'm willing to go if they'll let me."
Homeless must prove the vehicles are registered in their name and must sign a pact to follow the rules which includes checking in between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and checking back out between 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. They must be students or employed or seeking work. No drugs or alcohol will be tolerated in the parking lots.
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