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Government and Politics

Carbajal Safe Parking Program Act could expand services nationwide

Angel Russell
Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo is now operating the Railroad Square Safe Parking Program for about $65,000 annually

Safe Parking programs provide a place to sleep for people and families living in their cars without risk of getting a citation.

People using the program are often offered resources and connected to other permanent housing.

Now, Central Coast Congressman Salud Carbajal is working to expand these programs across the state and country by passing the Naomi Schwartz Safe Parking Act.

It’s named for a former Santa Barbara County Supervisor who championed the nation’s first Safe Parking Program on the Central Coast in 2004.

“She was somebody who stuck her neck out for those that oftentimes are marginalized or the most vulnerable in our community," Rep. Carbajal said. "Certainly the homeless, and people who are houseless and struggling, was one of her passions.”

Safe Parking Programs are often met with objection by neighbors who are concerned about things like trash and crime.

Congressman Carbajal's office
On May 3, 2021, Rep. Carbajal held a press conference with local officials in Santa Barbara to introduce the bipartisan Naomi Schwartz Safe Parking Program Act.

But San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties run a handful of Safe Parking Programs that Carbajal said serve as testimony.

“This program has been implemented very effectively and very successfully and I think it serves as a model that could be scaled up throughout the Central Coast, throughout California and throughout the country,” Carbajal said.

The Safe Parking Act is part of a larger affordable housing bill called the Housing for All Act that lawmakers introduced last week in both houses of Congress.

Carbajal said the bill would invest $532 billion over the next ten years to fund new housing units, rental assistance, hotel conversions and eviction protection grants.

He said Safe Parking programs are included in the bill because there is no one solution to solving homelessness.

“What we need is a myriad of options and opportunities for people who find themselves on the houseless spectrum,” Carbajal said.

The Housing for All Act will be introduced in the Senate next week by Senator Alex Padilla, Congressman Carbajal and Congressman Ted Lieu.

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