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Church Parking for the Homeless

7/11/2018, 6 a.m.
A new initiative to allow people experiencing homelessness to sleep in their cars in church parking lots and other faith ...
A houseless couple gets a place to park their camper to sleep overnight as part of a homeless program offered by St. Vincent de Paul in Eugene. A similar effort targeted to church parking lots will soon launch in Portland.

A new initiative to allow people experiencing homelessness to sleep in their cars in church parking lots and other faith organizations is poised to launch soon and aims to connect them with needed services.

The city of Portland and Multnomah County’s Joint Office of Homeless Services will begin the 12-month pilot project, in partnership with the organization that successfully brought the Kenton Women’s Village in north Portland to reality, Catholic Charities.

Advocates are looking for three to five sites that each have at least one vehicle space, with trash and bathroom facilities provided.

Sleeping in a vehicle is a growing trend in Multnomah County — a result of the region’s increasingly expensive housing market compared to wages.

Of those sleeping without shelter, 257 people reported sleeping in vehicles, a number that has increased faster than any other sleeping option for unsheltered people since 2015.

The Overnight Parking Program is modeled after similar efforts in Eugene and Santa Barbara and is made possible by updates to Portland City Code which allows properties owned or leased by faith organizations to host up to three vehicles and/or six transitional housing units at a time.