The Human Services Department (HSD) has moved forward with a partnership with the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (Urban League) and Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Ballard to support an existing program that helps people who are living in their cars connect to case management services and stable permanent housing. In her budget, which was approved by City Council, Mayor Durkan proposed a Safe Parking Pilot to help more people move into housing from vehicles. In addition, HSD will work with other faith community leaders across the City to fully implement the pilot to serve up to 30 households living in their cars.
Over the last seven years, Our Redeemer’s Church has successfully hosted people experiencing homelessness and sheltering in their vehicles. The Road to Housing program, created in 2012, has previously received support from the City and state. Starting earlier this year, the church began partnering with Urban League to manage the program, which includes ensuring participant and community safety, managing participant referrals and helping people find permanent housing. The program has capacity to serve up to seven households but currently serves two to three households living in their cars. Over the past six months, all nine households served were able to move to permanent housing. The City will partner with Urban League and Our Redeemer’s Church to consistently serve seven households at a time and achieve full utilization of the program with funds from the Safe Parking Pilot. Any further expansion would be informed by the success of the program in helping people move from their cars to safer spaces and the input of the faith community and its neighbors.
Mayor Durkan included $250,000 in the 2019 City of Seattle budget to support a Safe Parking Pilot. This pilot program is inspired by a similar and successful program in Santa Barbara, which also serves people living in their cars, who were often working during the day and needed a safe place to stay overnight. The pilot will only serve participants that have been referred to the program and are actively seeking permanent housing. Continuing the practice of the current program at Our Redeemer’s Church, participants will be required to sign an agreement to abide by a code of conduct to protect participants and community members.
While this program has been serving individuals and families since 2012, the City of Seattle has conducted additional community engagement and outreach, including conversations to notify community organizations and commitments to attend the next Ballard District Council meeting and the Ballard Community Taskforce on Homelessness and Hunger meeting. This week, neighbors will receive an email with this blog post attached and city staff will conduct a canvass to ensure that neighbors are aware of the program and have a contact person to reach out to with any questions. The City will also attend additional community meetings upon request. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions regarding the current Road to Housing program at Our Redeemer’s Church.
In the coming weeks, HSD and the Department of Neighborhoods (DON) will conduct additional meetings with faith communities across Seattle, and their neighbors, to gauge interest in expanding the Safe Parking Pilot. Once fully implemented, the pilot will serve up to thirty households of individuals and families living in vehicles across the City.
If you are a member of a faith community and are interested in learning more about participating in the Safe Parking Pilot, please contact email@example.com. HSD would be happy to meet with you and your neighbors to discuss the proposed model and share the best practices from the existing program at Our Redeemer’s Church.
Faith communities are critical partners in addressing the crisis of homelessness in Seattle, providing essential care to people experiencing homelessness in the form of emergency shelters, financial assistance, hot meals and programs that build supportive communities. Building upon the best practices learned from the successful Urban League and Our Redeemer’s Church partnership and funds from Mayor’s Durkan’s Safe Parking Pilot, HSD is confident that Seattle can provide more safe places for people living in their cars to stay while they are looking for permanent housing.