Leaders looking to find safe parking for those living in cars along San Mateo Co. coast

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Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Leaders looking into safe parking program for unhoused living in cars
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San Mateo County leaders are looking into a program where the unhoused community living in vehicles along the coast can safely park.

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (KGO) -- Leaders are working on dedicating a location on the San Mateo County coast where the unhoused who live in their vehicles can park.

San Mateo County, Half Moon Bay and the nonprofit WeHOPE are working on the project with leaders exploring locations from Montara to Half Moon Bay.

Alicia Garcia, Chief Operating Officer of WeHOPE, said there is no safe parking program on the San Mateo coastside and they're looking to change that.

Garcia said the parking location would help people experiencing homelessness get back on the road to self-sufficiency more quickly.

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She said those who are vehicular homeless are often displaced for a variety of issues, such as being diagnosed with a health condition. She said they can be single, couples or families.

"It's families with children in the community that are trying to keep their children in the school system, and so they stay parked close by, so that they can still get their children to school," Garcia said. "Many of them are working people that are living there in their cars because they can't afford the rent, but they want to live as close as they can to their jobs. And so we're trying to really help these people rebuild their lives so that they can stay in the community when possible."

Garcia said it's difficult to help the unhoused when they're spread out and you have to find them. She said having them in one location helps meet their needs.

"We can provide comprehensive case management," Garcia said. "We can make sure that they get coordinated entry system assessments, which puts them in the housing pool for vouchers and such that can really be transformative for these families."

Garcia said there would be a full-time security officer at the site.

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In addition, Half Moon Bay City Manager Matthew Chidester said services provided include social support, bathrooms, showers, laundry facilities and meal services.

Chidester said this can help the unhoused transition into permanent housing.

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Redwood City has a similar program for those living in RVs. The city's website says out of 98 households that joined, 52 moved into permanent housing through the program. More than half are on the path towards permanent housing.

Garcia they got about $965,000 in funding for this, which includes a grant from San Mateo County.

Garcia said they'd like to get this safe parking program in place by March.

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