SEATTLE — Seattle’s Human Services Department (HSD) announced a partnership with the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle and Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Ballard to support an existing program that helps people living in their cars find permanent housing.

The city wants to increase the use of Our Redeemer’s existing Road to Housing program. The program gives people living in their vehicles a safe place to park at night, along with amenities like a bathroom, showers, a small kitchen, and a laundry machine.

“We have seven spots, but they've never all been full,” Pastor Kathy Hawks explained.

The partnership is the first step in Seattle’s Safe Parking Pilot program. The program was proposed by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, who included $250,000 in the city’s 2019 budget to support a Safe Parking Pilot.

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Hawks said the church will not receive any funds. Instead, the funds will go towards outreach to help find people to fill the spots. The church uses case managers with the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle who will locate participants for the program.

In May, the Seattle and King County annual point-in-time homeless count estimated 19% of the county’s homeless live in a car, RV, or van.

Hawks said people are welcome to stay in the church’s spots until they are ready to move on.

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“The vast majority of people leave [the Road to Housing program] to go to stable housing,” Hawks said. 

The HSD will meet with other faith groups over the next several weeks to spark interest in the Safe Parking Pilot. The pilot plans to serve up to 30 individuals and families across the city.