For Immediate Release:
Ana Tellez, District Director
Office of Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan
Oakland, CA (Dec. 28, 2023) -- In January 2022, the Point-In-Time Homeless Count and Survey revealed that there are over 3,337 unsheltered individuals in Oakland, and the number of people living in their vehicles has increased. Homelessness is a complex crisis that requires both short-term and long-term solutions. Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan is encouraged to share that the Oakland City Council approved the resolutions she introduced in partnership with Council President Bas and Councilmember Fife to support local faith-based congregations who use their properties as safe overnight parking to help Oakland's unhoused population living in their vehicles.
The Point-In-Time Homeless Count data also shows that while the proportion of unhoused people living in tents has decreased in recent years, the proportion living in cars has increased. Therefore, this effort partners with local faith-based organizations to help those living in their vehicles.
How Does the Safe Parking Program Help?
The Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC) Safe Parking program provides safe and legal overnight parking at local churches. This program provides support for minor auto repairs, car registration, and tickets, along with access to showers and laundry. It is an essential program for Oakland's unhoused population that lives in their vehicles, including single adults, couples, and families with small children.
“The Interfaith Council of Alameda County, in partnership with the Westside Missionary Baptist Church, has run a safe car park program for the last five years with many other congregations and partner nonprofits. With the leadership of Rebecca Kaplan, on the Council, the Mayor’s office, Council President Nikki Bas, and Councilmember Carrol Fife, we were able to get a commitment of funding of $450,000 from the City of Oakland to expand our operations to three sites to continue to support the Oakland community living in their cars,” said Rev. Ken Chambers, ICAC president
As Katrina Nodora, an ICAC Safe Parking Program participant, experienced, having a safe parking place to sleep can provide peace of mind. “Just being off the street and not having to look over your shoulder every night. Not knowing if someone going to come and bust my window tonight? Just having the security helps a lot,” said Nodora.
Finding a safe and legal place to park can be challenging for these individuals and families, and they are often forced to find public places to park, such as our city parks. The Safe Parking program provides a secure environment for people living in their cars while helping keep our parks and sidewalks accessible.
Rev. To Niya M. Scott-Smith, a minister who has served Oakland since 1987, wrote in support of the ICAC and its program, "ICAC is essential. No one does what ICAC does; the Safe Car Park Program is evidence of that... As we rest comfortably and warmly in our respective beds tonight, please, let us dream of warm, safe spaces for the most vulnerable of our communities, our children, and the unsheltered."
Using Measure Q
Oakland voters approved Measure Q in a vote of 68 percent. Measure Q promised voters park maintenance, litter reduction, and homelessness intervention in and around City parks. However, the City Auditor found the City underspent collected taxes, accruing a fund balance of nearly $22 million as of June 30, 2023.
We now have the funding, and we must continue to support these community-led programs to help them succeed. The Safe Parking program is urgent, with the rise of people living in their cars. The legislation includes a six-month performance evaluation to ensure ICAC meets the agreed services and safety metrics. It also sets aside $3,366,400 for park maintenance, $1,578,000 for Homeless Services, and $263,000 for water Quality and Litter Reduction, which the Council will work to allocate during our upcoming budget cycle.
By supporting faith-based congregations to use their property to help those living in their cars, Oakland can improve the quality of life for program participants and the surrounding communities.
Removing Stolen and Abandoned Vehicles from Oakland Streets
In addition to supporting faith-based congregations to use their property to help those living in their cars, Councilmember Kaplan is working to rapidly remove abandoned, blighted, and stolen vehicles from the public right of way and reduce crime and blight. This includes utilizing best practices learned from other cities to retrieve stolen cars more quickly and clear abandoned vehicles from the roadways. If you believe your car may have been towed, you can now look it up online at www.oaklandautoplustowing.com/copy-of-vehicle-towed.