The Encinitas Union School District’s board of trustees jumped into the debate over whether the city should give the go-ahead to a controversial overnight parking lot for the homeless.
“We commend this program which will provide vital resources and tools, dignified support, and a welcoming environment to help individuals and families stabilize their lives and transition back into housing,” the district statement read.
The statement also admits that members of the district’s student body are living out of their families’ cars, or are “housing insecure”.
Proponents of the overnight parking proposal say they were pleased to learn of the school district’s support, but opponents had a different message.
“The problem is children and families shouldn’t be sleeping in cars,” said Julie Thunder of Cardiff, who is part of a group that calls themselves the North County Citizens Coalition.
Thunder told NBC 7 this was the first time she’d heard of homeless students within the district. She said the school district isn’t doing its job, claiming it should be connecting those children to agencies like the Community Resource Center or Social Services.
“Can you imagine a kindergartener sitting in a car and doing his homework by flashlight? It was under 50 degrees here last night. That is not right. We’re outraged,” Thunder said.
Thunder said this isn’t a case of “not in my backyard”. She says the coalition believes in taking care of local homeless people but not by opening a lot to all homeless people in the north county.
If approved, the parking lot will have no more than 25 parking spaces, including on-site support with case managers and overnight security. It will be for people who recently became homeless
A 2018 homeless count in San Diego’s north county found 1,975 homeless people, 354 of them were living in their vehicles. 51 of those homeless people living in cars were in Encinitas.
Encinitas City Council will vote on the proposal on January 22nd. Both sides of the issue say they will be there to voice their opinions.
For more information on the proposed lot operated by Jewish Family Services, click here.
Here is the full statement from the Encinitas Union School District:
Dear Encinitas City Council, Leichtag Foundation and Jewish Family Services:
The Encinitas Union School District (EUSD) Board would like to express support for a Safe Parking Program to help individuals and families who are living in their vehicles so that they might have a safe and secure place to sleep. We commend this program which will provide vital resources and tools, dignified support, and a welcoming environment to help individuals and families stabilize their lives and transition back into housing. We understand the program seeks to serve those currently living out of their cars and who typically are experiencing homelessness for the first time including veterans, older adults, college students and families with young children. We also understand that all program participants will be screened for safety considerations and no alcohol or drug use will be allowed on the premises.
EUSD has families who are homeless and many more who are housing insecure. When a family, often unexpectedly, experiences a financial hardship that forces them from their home, school staff, and sometimes school parents aware of the situation, scramble to find temporary solutions and direct these families to potential resources to help ensure the affected children have their basic needs met and can continue to attend school on a regular basis. The Safe Parking Program in Encinitas could offer another temporary resource for our EUSD families meeting the conditions to participate in the program and we would refer them to Jewish Family Services for consideration.
The EUSD Board of Trustees discussed this program during regularly scheduled meetings on December 17, 2019, and January 14, 2020, and took action to approve this letter of support on January 14, 2020.
We look forward to following the progress of the project.