LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Thousands of Los Angeles County residents live in their cars, prompting officials to pilot a ``safe parking'' program and designate 20 overnight spaces at two county-owned lots in Hollywood and North Hollywood as a starting point.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl recommended working with Safe Parking LA, a nonprofit organization that will manage overnight use of the lots and develop individualized action plans to guide those who park there to permanent housing, jobs, training, emergency support and other services.``We're starting small, but we expect this program to grow by making more and more county-owned lots available,'' Kuehl said.
Nearly 16,000 people live in roughly 9,000 cars, vans, campers or recreational vehicles countywide, according to a 2018 point-in-time count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. The two lots, used during the day by Department of Public Health employees, are located at 5205 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood and 5300 Tujunga Avenue in North Hollywood.
Under the agreement, Safe Parking LA will be responsible for clearing out the lots each morning and maintaining them so that county employees can park without any problem. The board also approved another motion directing the Department of Beaches and Harbors to allow two portable toilet and handwashing facilities to be set up nightly in the Venice Beach Rose Avenue beach parking lot for use by homeless men and women.
Hygiene for the homeless has become a higher priority for local city and county officials in response to a statewide hepatitis A outbreak that spread through the community, with deadly consequences in San Diego. However, restrooms are about more than disease control, according to advocates who say access grants homeless individuals a basic level of human dignity.