Living in your car in LA, on the rise

I have about 120 homeless families on my caseload at any given time. Currently 5 of those families are living in their cars. Some of the families are parked in the driveways of family members and friends, some are on city streets, and one is in a “Denny’s” parking lot. All of these families have children living in the cares with the parent. Four of the parents are single mothers and one is a dad.

There simply is not enough temporary housing, shelters, or safe beds for the overcrowding in the county. Hotels that previously were open to use as shelters are also populated with drug addicts and prostitutes and other hotels don’t want to run the “28 day shuffle” to prevent the families from achieveing housing rights.

In the mean time, there are not enough safe places to park, and hygiene facilities available for Car residing families, or zoning for this.

Being a stuck up suburbanite, I sympathize with the NIMBY (not in my back yard) attitude . . . I mean, who spends $400,000.00 for a house just to have a motor home or other vehicle parked in front of it with the tenants visible to you?

However, I know that very few people think living in their car sounds like a good and safe idea. It is a stop on the ladder down to sleeping on the curb. A dangerous stop that is often expensive. The engine has to be turned on and off during cold periods to warm the car, parking tickets are abundant and these folk are easy pickins for thieves.

Here is a link to the LA TIMES story about Car Residents in Venice. http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/california/la-me-rvzones22-2009jan22,0,7892116.story

Please, let me know if you have any good solutions or suggestions.

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