Rep. Carbajal Leads Introduction of Bipartisan Legislation to Unlock Federal Funds for Safe Parking Programs Nationwide

20th anniversary of Santa Barbara pioneering nation’s first safe parking programs, aided by Carbajal then as a County staffer, is marked this week with legislation co-led by California lawmakers Carbajal, LaMalfa, Valadao, Vargas

  • Honoring 20 Years Since Santa Barbara First Pioneered Safe Parking Programs, Rep. Carbajal Announces Introduction of Bipartis

Today, Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) introduced bipartisan legislation to unlock federal dollars for safe parking programs with California Representatives Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-01), David Valadao (R-CA-22), and Juan Vargas (D-CA-52).

The bill is inspired by the 20th anniversary of the launch of the nation’s first safe parking program in Santa Barbara, California. Rep. Carbajal helped set up the 2004 program through his role as a staffer at the County of Santa Barbara. The Santa Barbara program, overseen by the local nonprofit New Beginnings, has served as a model for similar programs across the United States.

“I am proud to have played a small part in helping get this critical program off the ground – one that now has served hundreds of Central Coast residents across the County through the remarkable stewardship of New Beginnings. But I am also proud to see the inspiration our program has been for communities across America,” said Rep. Carbajal. “There’s no reason why the federal government should not be recognizing the difference these programs make in responding to the housing crises we are facing.”

Safe Parking Programs provide safe overnight parking locations for people experiencing homelessness and living in their vehicles as well as supportive services, like rapid rehousing services and facilities like restrooms and showers.

The Naomi Schwartz and Susan Rose Safe Parking Act, which is named in honor of the two Santa Barbara County Supervisors who first developed the 2004 program, is bipartisan legislation that would allow federal housing funds to support safe parking programs by making these programs eligible for grants to support operation and expansion of these critical lifelines.

“Homelessness is not just an issue affecting big cities – it’s having an impact right in our own backyard in rural communities throughout the Central Valley,” said Congressman Valadao. “There’s not one easy solution to this complex issue, but Safe Parking Programs help to keep people off the streets as they work to find more permanent housing. This bipartisan bill is an important step to combat homelessness and ensure people have the resources they need to successfully reintegrate into our communities.” 

"I'm proud to introduce the Naomi Schwartz and Susan Rose Safe Parking Act with Reps. Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Doug LaMalfa (CA-1), and David Valadao (CA-22). Everyone deserves a safe, secure, and affordable place to live,” said Rep. Vargas. “This legislation will assist and expand resources for those experiencing vehicular homelessness and further aid with their transition to stable housing.”

Local History:

Last week, Rep. Carbajal announced plans to introduce the bill alongside former Santa Barbara County Supervisor Susan Rose, one of the bill’s namesakes, as well as 1st District Santa Barbara County Supervisor Das Williams and New Beginnings Executive Director Kristine Schwartz, whose team helps oversee 26 safe parking spaces throughout Santa Barbara County.

“For me, the safe parking program – when we got it up and running – was a dream come true, and it’s been a success,” said former County Supervisor Susan Rose. “Salud has been a champion for the safe parking program both on the Board of Supervisors and now in Washington – and I know that he can make this happen. Salud, we’re cheering you on.”

“There is a critical need for dedicated funding to support families and individuals who have no viable option but to live out of their vehicles. This population is represented in an increasing number of communities across the country and includes so many people who are on the precipice between returning to stable housing and falling further into homelessness. New Beginnings wholeheartedly supports Congressman Carbajal's bill to expand the eligible uses of ESG funding to address this urgent need,” said Kristine Schwartz.


The legislation is endorsed by the National Association of Counties, California State Association of Counties, League of California Cities, National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Coalition for the Homeless, City of Santa Barbara, Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara, Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura, Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.

“The urgency and complexity of our homelessness crisis demands we use every tool and resource available to support our unhoused fellow community members,” said the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) President and San Luis Obispo Supervisor Bruce Gibson. “The safe parking grant program established by the Naomi Schwartz and Susan Rose Safe Parking Act would give counties a great opportunity to connect individuals experiencing homelessness with supportive services to improve their health, self-sufficiency, and housing.”

“Good safe parking programs provide people experiencing homelessness with secure, clean places to park overnight and connect them with housing and services.  In states which experience vehicular homelessness, those safe parking programs are an important part of homelessness response systems and deserving of federal support,” said a representative for the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “The Alliance endorses this important legislation which makes safe parking programs eligible for Emergency Solutions Grants and we thank Representative Carbajal for his strong leadership.” 

"As the homelessness, affordable housing, mental health, and addiction crises have accelerated, California cities have substantially stepped up their efforts to support and protect our most vulnerable residents," said League of California Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman. "Even with these accelerated efforts, cities need additional funding and resources to support the growing number of people falling into homelessness. Cal Cities supports the Naomi Schwartz and Susan Rose Safe Parking Act, as it provides cities with additional flexibility to support residents living out their vehicles and provides a pathway toward permanent housing solutions. A strong partnership with the federal government is critical in supporting state and local efforts to address homelessness, and Cal Cities stands ready to partner in finding solutions."

“This groundbreaking legislation builds upon the innovative model established by the New Beginnings Counseling Center’s Safe Parking Program, a pioneering initiative that has been instrumental in our city for over two decades. The Act recognizes the success of our community’s approach in providing a safe haven for individuals living in their vehicles, coupled with access to vital services and a pathway to permanent housing. We are proud that the Santa Barbara model, which balances compassion with practical support, is now set to inspire and guide other communities across the nation. The enactment of this legislation would mark a crucial step in addressing the broader issues of homelessness and housing instability. We look forward to seeing this model replicated and adapted, helping more individuals nationwide achieve the stability and dignity of permanent housing,” said Rob Fredericks, Executive Director and CEO of the Housing Authority for City of Santa Barbara.

“Homelessness is a challenging issue we all face together; addressing homelessness requires a multipronged approach including making resources available in our communities so our community partners such as those with parking lots, can make those spaces available for short-term safe parking to our unhoused neighbors.  These programs allow those experiencing homelessness and living in their vehicles a safe place to park and allow service providers to reach them and make a critical connection,” said Jeff Lambert, CEO of the Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura.

“For many years, HASBARCO has worked closely with safe parking programs in Santa Barbara County and has been able to provide permanent supportive affordable housing to numerous individuals and families coming out of safe parking,” said a representative for the Housing Authority for the County of Santa Barbara. “Adding “Safe Parking” as an eligible activity under the Emergency Solutions Grant Program helps to ensure the continued success of safe parking programs.”

Additional Background:

Safe parking programs now exist across the United States, from sites in California and the Pacific Northwest to Colorado, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

These programs seek to counteract a rise in laws outlawing people experiencing homelessness from living in their vehicles, which has seen a 213% spike in ordinances from 2006 to 2019 – including an outright ban in four states.

A previous version of Carbajal’s bill advanced out of the House committee overseeing housing issues in 2022, but did not become law.

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