Organization aims to create safe overnight parking for homeless

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Palo Alto is considered a great place to live—the city took sixth place on Livability.com’s Top 100 Best Places to Live in 2018 list. However, the infamous high housing costs can also be prohibitive, leaving some to resort to living in their cars. As a result, Move Mountain View, a program meant to help homeless people live in the safety of their cars, has launched. The Mountain View-based organization’s goal is to utilize parking lots at churches and let people living in their vehicle rest there safely overnight.

Jake Dodson, one of the head leaders of the project, is hoping to expand the organization to Palo Alto. “[Move Mountain View] started as a Mountain View-based nonprofit for the same purpose: to manage a church sponsored safe parking program,” he said. “They currently do it there, but this is their first expansion into another city.”

According to Dodson, the organization has recently filed an application to the Palo Alto City Council; through a series of discussions with the surrounding community, they hope to get the project approved soon. “Palo Alto is considering a pilot program for a little bit over a year; it would run through August of 2022,” he said. “Should the pilot program get approved, there would be a 90-day assessment period, and then, depending on how that’s gone, the permit would get extended.”

This project isn’t just a safe parking program; there are also social services programs tied to it. Residents of the parking lot will have a connection to a social worker. “Once a month there’s an expectation of a connection with that social worker,” Dodson said. The hopes of this project are to give people who are living in their vehicles a safe space for them to rest and to possibly find a better housing solution for them. “I’m hoping that we could be as helpful as possible to the larger issue of homelessness and those who are unsheltered in our community,” Dodson said.