Long Beach City College has launched a program that will allow up to 15 students experiencing homelessness to park in its garage overnight, the Los Angeles Times reports.
They’ll have access to electricity, bathrooms, and wifi at night, and perhaps most importantly, there will be security guards around to make it safer to sleep in their cars. The pilot program will initially be limited to 15 parking spaces, but if it’s successful, it could be expanded in the future.
Hopefully, it will be expanded, because the school currently believes 68 students live in their cars — and that’s just the students who have cars to live in. The college says 199 students have experienced homelessness for more than a year
Obviously, it’s not a perfect solution. Ideally, someone would just give these students an actual place to live. Permanent supportive housing works, and it’s often essential for anyone to find success. But since it’s illegal in most of California to build the kind of housing that’s actually needed, it’s at least a step in the right direction.
LBCC’s District interim Supt.-President Mike Munoz seems to agree:
This is not just intended to be a long-term solution for students. All students who participate in the Safe Parking Program are able to receive case management services through our office of basic needs. We’re looking for ways to transition them.
We have to have a strategy for students who are in that housing crisis. Safe parking is that short-term response for students that are housing insecure that need support in the moment.
Actually trying to do something about homelessness? In the state of California? Absurd! Usually, the response is just, “Eww. Make those people go away.”
In addition to the new safe parking program, LBCC plans to expand its partnership with two organizations that help students find housing: Jovenes and Economic Roundtable. In the next few years, it will also try to build affordable housing for its students.