A California city with a rising homeless population is reportedly planning to open its first facility to serve those who are living out of their cars and recreational vehicles.
A San Francisco parking lot will be turned into a place where people can park their vehicles overnight and access bathrooms, showers and services to help them find other housing options, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The city-owned parking lot is near the Bay Area Rapid Transit’s Balboa Park Station. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is a public transportation system serving the San Francisco Bay Area.
Earlier this month, San Francisco released a new report of the homeless count in the city, which was conducted in January.
The report, released by the city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, showed that homelessness is on the rise with more than 8,000 people in 2019 compared to about 6,800 in 2015. The report revealed that 35 percent of unsheltered homeless people lived in vehicles, compared to 13 percent four years earlier.
During the week of the January count nearly 1,200 people were on the waiting list for shelter beds.
The report revealed that 600 passenger vehicles, RVs or vans appeared to be inhabited in San Francisco.
Officials have said they can’t keep up with the number of people who become homeless in a city where the median sales price of a house is around $1.4 million and median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is around $3,700.
“When we have this option, we can say to people, ‘we have an option for you’ and ‘where you are right now is not safe,’ and they can say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ And if they say ‘no,’ they will not necessarily be able to stay where they are,” Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, whose district includes the site, told the Chronicle.
About 30 mid-to-large vehicles will reportedly fit at the site. People must be referred there by someone with The San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team and will be allowed to stay for 90 days at a time, the Chronicle reported, adding that the site will also have case managers on hand to help connect people to services including long-term housing.
Officials reportedly want to move forward with the project as quickly as possible and open the site by winter.
If the one-year pilot program is successful, officials will try to replicate it in other parts of the city where people increasingly use their vehicles as homes, according to the paper.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.