Carbajal Formally Introduces the Naomi Schwartz Safe Parking Program Act
Santa Barbara, CA, May 4, 2021
Santa Barbara, CA – Yesterday, Congressman Salud Carbajal held a press conference to announce the introduction of the bipartisan Naomi Schwartz Safe Parking Program Act. The bipartisan bill establishes a grant program for cities and local governments to utilize in order to establish a safe parking program, or expand an existing program, for community members experiencing homelessness. The bill was formally introduced today and full bill text can be found here.
While the pandemic has exacerbated income inequality, housing costs in California and across the country have continued to rise. Vehicle residency is one of the fastest-growing forms of homelessness and estimates show that about a quarter of homeless individuals in Los Angeles are living out of their vehicles. While cars, trucks, and RVs can be cost-effective alternatives in places with some of the nation’s steepest rents, sleeping in a vehicle on most city streets is illegal and often leaves those experiencing vehicular homelessness vulnerable to harassment and violence.
Safe parking programs provide homeless persons living in their vehicles with a safe place to park their vehicles overnight and offer resources to assist with the transition to more stable housing. The very first safe parking program in the country was established in Santa Barbara in 2004 in former County Supervisor Naomi Schwartz’s district, who the bill is named after to honor her role as an original champion of the program. Safe parking programs have now spread across the country, but there remains limited federal funds to run the operational costs associated with the program.
The Naomi Schwartz Safe Parking Program Act of 2021 establishes five-year grants through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for cities and local governments to apply for up to $5 million dollars to establish or expand existing safe parking programs. Grants may be used for:
Safe parking programs must provide services to facilitate transition to more stable housing for participants. Additionally, if an eligible entity determines that a safe parking program is no longer necessary, such eligible entity may, after approval from the Secretary HUD, use any amounts provided under this section for activities that are eligible for the use of the emergency solutions grant program. After the second and fifth year of the program, the bill requires the Secretary to include a report to Congress on the impact of the grants.