Please Note: The goal of this article is to educate the public on the concept of safe parking. Nest does not endorse or condone safe parking, and Nest does not allow safe parking in our parking lot. If you are living out of your vehicle and need assistance, please know you are encouraged to be our guest inside the shelter during your stay with us.

Every day, we witness firsthand the struggles faced by individuals and families who find themselves living out of their vehicles. One of the most significant challenges they face is finding a safe and legal place to park overnight. The constant fear of being ticketed, towed, or harassed can be overwhelming and can make an already difficult situation even more stressful. Beyond a ticket or involvement with law enforcement, choosing where to park overnight can be the difference between life and death. Individuals who live out of their vehicles are more likely to experience violence, robberies, assault, and harassment than their housed counterparts. This poses a serious question for those living out of their vehicles: Where can you park safely overnight?

Safe parking programs provide designated parking lots or areas where individuals and families living out of their vehicles can park legally and safely overnight. These programs offer a temporary solution for those who have nowhere else to go and can provide a much-needed sense of stability and security.

One of the biggest challenges faced by those living out of their vehicles is the lack of legal parking options. Many cities have laws against sleeping in cars, and parking lots often have restrictions or time limits that make it difficult for individuals to stay overnight. This forces many people to constantly move their vehicles to avoid detection, which can be exhausting and can make it difficult to maintain employment or access necessary services.

Safe parking programs address this challenge by providing a legal and secure place for individuals to park their vehicles overnight. These designated areas are often monitored by staff or volunteers who can provide resources and support to those in need. Some programs even offer additional services such as restrooms, showers, and access to case management services.

The benefits of safe parking programs extend beyond just providing a place to park. These programs can serve as a means towards more permanent housing solutions. By providing a stable and secure environment, individuals and families can focus on addressing other challenges they may be facing, such as finding employment, accessing healthcare, or saving money for a rental deposit.

Safe parking programs can also help reduce the stigma and criminalization of vehicular homelessness. By providing a legal and sanctioned place for individuals to park, these programs can help shift the narrative away from viewing those living out of their vehicles as a nuisance or a threat and instead recognize them as individuals in need of support and resources.

At Nest, we recognize that safe parking is not a long-term solution to homelessness. While these programs can provide much-needed relief and support, they are ultimately a temporary measure. The real solution to homelessness is access to affordable, stable, and permanent housing.

That’s why we advocate for policies and programs that prioritize the creation of affordable housing and provide support services to help individuals and families transition into permanent housing. We believe that by working together as a community, we can create a future where everyone has access to a safe and stable place to call home.

In the meantime, by treating those experiencing vehicular homelessness with dignity and respect and by providing them with the resources and support they need to move forward, we can make a meaningful difference in their lives and in our community as a whole. Together, we can work toward a future in which safe parking programs are no longer necessary and everyone has access to the secure, stable, and affordable housing they deserve.