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City Considers Safe Parking Lots for Homeless in Sacramento

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SACRAMENTO -- You won’t find a house on this dead end North Sacramento road, but at any given time about a half-dozen people call it home.

"Plenty of times where I’ve thought: I’m tired, I don’t want to do this no more, let it end," Laurane Ivey said.

Ivey says 25 years of living on the the streets has taken its toll. Since she was 12 she’s been accustomed to sleeping in her car, her latest is an RV that she says has plumbing and power problems and no running water.

But, those are just part of the reasons she says living in her car is a struggle.

"People would be surprised how much stress it would take off of people if we had somewhere designated where we could go park, and not worrying about the cops coming and messing with us or getting ran off or, getting robbed or raped," Ivey said.

It’s a need some Sacramento City Council members are hoping to meet.

"It’s really something important that we provide safe places, but also safe places that are hooked up to services," District 5 Councilman Jay Schenirer said.

In San Diego, the “safe parking” initiative uses city-owned parking lots or land to allow homeless people living in their cars to park and get access to services.

Schenirer says it was with programs like this in mind that he and Councilman Rick Jennings directed the city of Sacramento to look into implementing a safe parking program in the Capitol City.

June's Point-in-Time count, which found hundreds of local people sleep in their cars, suggested the same program.

"I don’t particularly want to do just a parking lot," Schenirer said. "I think we want a place that is safe in the evening and safe at night, it has to have toilets, but most importantly a range of services and case management."

Schenirer imagines the location as something similar to a drive-in shelter.

Interestingly, a temporary triage shelter that did provide those resources that Schenirer mentioned recently closed -- just steps away from where Ivey sleeps in her camper on a road lined with other people living in their cars, including her mother.

But, she says you might not be able to find her there much longer.

"Cops came and told us we have to move, but they haven’t been back yet, but I know it’s coming soon," Ivey said.

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