SAFE PARKING FAQS

WHAT IS SAFE PARKING?

For people who are sheltering in vehicles because they’re experiencing homelessness, safe parking provides connection to services and safe, legal overnight parking with restroom access.

DOES SAFE PARKING REPLACE PERMANENT HOUSING OR OTHER TYPES OF SHELTER?

No. Safe parking reduces harm by helping people to stay safe while on the path to stable housing.

WHY IS SAFE PARKING NEEDED?

Hundreds of individuals and families are estimated to be sheltering in vehicles in the seven-county Denver metro area, and there are nearly a thousand statewide. The number of people experiencing homelessness is expected to increase dramatically as a result of the current financial crisis.

FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE SHELTERING IN VEHICLES, WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO SAFE PARKING?

Sheltering in vehicles is often a first stop for individuals who lose permanent housing. Without intervention and support, many fall deeper into homelessness and may eventually end up on the streets. Safe parking provides:

  • Increased safety and security for people and their property

  • Increased access to services and employment and/or education opportunities

  • Improved rest, which can lead to better outcomes in areas such as physical and mental health and employment

  • A community of support among safe parking guests

  • More day-to-day stability

  • A path to housing via housing navigation and coordinated entry

FOR THE COMMUNITY, WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SAFE PARKING?

Community benefits include:

  • Less disturbance of residents by unauthorized parking, and reduction in vehicle loitering

  • Reduced crime against people experiencing vehicular homelessness; safe parking guests also function as protective members of the community

  • Fewer issues with litter and human waste

  • Reduction in road congestion from long-term vehicle parking

  • Reduced systems costs associated with homelessness (e.g., law enforcement, health, waste management)

  • More public health, employment and other intervention opportunities

  • More comprehensive data on an underserved and undercounted population

WHERE ARE SAFE PARKING SITES LOCATED?

Safe parking sites are typically located in existing parking lots during hours when they are otherwise unused. Church parking lots are common sites for safe parking.

CAN PEOPLE JUST SHOW UP TO USE SAFE PARKING SITES?

No. Guests must be referred to a safe parking site by a participating service provider and receive a permit for a specific lot for a defined period of time.

WHAT IS THE COLORADO SAFE PARKING INITIATIVE (CSPI, WWW.COLOSAFEPARKING.ORG)?

CSPI is a grassroots, all-volunteer, nonprofit organization working to create a statewide network of safe, legal parking locations for individuals and families sheltering in vehicles because they are experiencing homelessness.

WHAT DOES THE INITIATIVE DO?

CSPI’s work includes developing a scalable service model for Colorado, identifying service providers and site hosts, providing information and training about safe parking, evaluating the effectiveness of safe parking programs, and addressing legal barriers to safe parking. CSPI does not operate safe parking programs or provide direct services to people experiencing homelessness.

WHO ARE CSPI’S PARTNERS AND FUNDERS?

The University of Denver and Barton Institute for Community Action have provided financial and in-kind support of CSPI.

WHAT HAS CSPI ACCOMPLISHED SO FAR?

CSPI completed a needs assessment, formed a regional task force and developed a program model in 2019. In spring 2020, CSPI created a comprehensive database of Colorado zoning regulations related to safe parking. The first metro area safe parking pilot site opened in spring 2020.

WHERE ARE SAFE PARKING SITES LOCATED?

Pilot sites are located in Broomfield and Longmont, Colorado. Colorado’s first safe parking site in Breckinridge, Colorado, has temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

ARE MORE SAFE PARKING SITES PLANNED?

Yes. In 2020, CSPI is working to establish sites in Jefferson County, Adams County, and Denver, and to expand sites in Boulder, Weld and Broomfield counties.

 
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