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JFS Safe Parking Program

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Home Start
What makes your organization unique in its approach to addressing homelessness?

The Safe Parking Program is more than just a safe place to park your car at night. The program provides a welcoming environment, meaningful resources and tools, and dignified support to help families stabilize and transition back into permanent housing. Within 72 hours of program entry, new participants meet with a Case Manager and complete a detailed assessment of their budget and goals. With holistic services focused on basic needs, employment, family wellness, school success, financial education, credit repair, and housing; our goal is to meet people where they are now and work with them to create a pathway out of homelessness.


What is a misconception you think the public has about homelessness?

There is often a misconception that homelessness in our community is one-dimensional, and resembles the homeless encampments seen under freeway passes. JFS is often met with the misconception that homeless clients come from other regions just to participate in the Safe Parking Program. Neither of these are the case. Not usually chronically homeless, many Safe Parking participants are experiencing homelessness for the first time, and their vehicle is often the last asset keeping them from a much more vulnerable situation. The Safe Parking model is a divisionary strategy that works to interrupt the downward spiral of homelessness. Most clients are employed or students, while many other are seniors living on a fixed income who have been priced out of an increasingly expensive rental market. For many, this bout of homelessness is temporary, and they will move into a sustainable permanent housing arrangement and will not go on to experience chronic homelessness with the help of these timely support systems and interventions. 


When was the organization founded?

JFS was founded in 1918 by the “Jolly Sixteen”—a group of sixteen women who were committed to making a difference in people’s lives. Early on, their efforts were dedicated to welcoming new immigrants—those who came from the other side of the country, and those who were seeking refuge in the United States for the first time. Needs were mostly short-term and specific—a place to sleep, a warm meal, and a clean shirt for a job interview.   Over the decades the San Diego population expanded rapidly, and our focus shifted from immediate needs to family strengthening and counseling. From these grassroots origins, we have grown today into a premier human services agency in San Diego serving over 70,000 individuals last year. JFS began operating its own Safe Parking lots in 2017 and now has expanded to four sites across San Diego County.  


You are part of the "prevention" giv4 homelessness category. Can you explain more what work your organization does in this area?

The Safe Parking Program serves as both a prevention and intervention program. When participants enter the program they are at a point of crisis – their vehicle is the last asset keeping them from being on the streets. The program’s timely intervention provides not only a safe place to park, but employment services, case management, emergency financial resources, and a community of support. These efforts – including vehicle repairs and paid registration fees- also ensure that participants remain in their vehicles while they work towards finding sustainable housing solutions, preventing them from falling further into homelessness.


Is your organization looking for volunteers? Are you looking for committee/board members with particular skill sets? Do you need in-kind donations of any sort?
JFS is fortunate to have a robust volunteer program, with many of our programs being volunteer-driven. We are always looking for more volunteers! Both group and individual opportunities are available, and more information can be found here: https://www.jfssd.org/volunteer/.
For the Safe Parking program, we specifically are looking for volunteers willing to donate and distribute warm dinners. We also have a volunteer Board of Directors and are looking for interested and qualified individuals who might join our work on the Board or various committees.

giv4 provides general operating support through this grant. (Why? Learn more). However, if this funding would be useful for homelessness prevention, how would it be used?
Unrestricted funds to support the work of the agency are always appreciated. It allows JFS to remain nimble and meet the pressing needs of the clients we serve. Unrestricted funds directed towards the Safe Parking Program are also extremely beneficial. This program often operates in a deficit, and the funding secured through local and state partners is often very limited in allowable use. Unrestricted support allows JFS to ensure that each Safe Parking site has security and restrooms and that participants can access emergency funds for vehicle repairs or security deposits for permanent housing, and more.

Are there any recent articles that your organization would like to highlight?

SD Union-Tribune, December 2022. These are the stories of newly homeless San Diegans

USCD, January 2022. Evaluation of Jewish Family Service of San Diego's Safe Parking Program-Two Year Summary Research Report

ABC 10 News, September 2022. Mission Valley safe parking lot now open 24 hours

SD Union-Tribune, July 2022. Homeless people who live in their cars see 24-hour parking as long overdue

 

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