In the midst of a housing crisis, the City of San Diego announced the expansion of a program offering safe places for people to sleep in their vehicles.
“I never thought in my whole life I’d be in a position like this,” Colleen Stuart told NBC 7.
Stuart has been homeless since June and in the past two weeks began parking overnight at the Jewish Family Service location on Balboa Avenue in Kearny Mesa.
The lot provides her a place to use a restroom, take a shower and get a little peace of mind.
“Someplace to sleep where you know someone isn't going to reach into your car and kill you,” said Stuart. “It's wonderful.”
The safe parking program has been around since 2010. The nonprofit organization Dreams for Change opened the first lot along State Route 94 at 28th Street.
Dreams for Change partnered with the JFS to run a second parking lot on Balboa Avenue offering 40 spaces. Now, the lot will add 20 spaces and a third lot with 60 spaces is expected to open Monday, Oct. 23 at Aero Drive and Murphy Canyon Road.
Michael Hopkins, CEO Jewish Family Service, said the notion that families were putting their children to sleep in the back of a car is what prompted the organization to open its lot to those in need.
“I know when my children were young how difficult it was to put my children to bed in their own rooms,” Hopkins said. “Imagine your whole family trying to go to bed in a car. For us, that’s what really moved us.”
Hopkins said his organization has even pulled together enough funding for case managers who will work closely with the families to find permanent housing and even jobs.
Earlier this month, 200 women and children moved into new homeless shelters in Golden Hill. The shelters, which have restrooms, showers, and hand washing stations, are located in the parking lot of the City Operations Yard, just south of the Balboa Park Golf Course.
The camp, paid for with public and private funding, will be open for up to 90 days while the city works to install larger shelters in downtown, Barrio Logan, and the Midway District.
In July, a 62-unit apartment complex was opened in the East Village.
In March, Father Joe's Villages announced a new plan to transform unused lots and overlooked buildings - like old motels - into apartments. The organization said the project could result in an additional 2,000 units of housing for people overcoming homelessness.