City expands program that reduces parking tickets for the homeless

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SAN DIEGO -- The city of San Diego announced the expansion Thursday of a program that waives or reduces parking ticket fines and fees for homeless residents who prove financial hardship or a need for assistance.

The city launched the "Clean Plates" program in 2015 in partnership with the City Treasurer's Office, the City Attorney's Office, the San Diego County Public Defender's Office and the San Diego Homeless Court Steering Committee. Since launching, 63 homeless residents have received assistance with 542 citations, according to the city.

The program now follows the same calendar as the homeless court, which helps homeless residents resolve misdemeanors and minor infractions each month.

Clean Plates participants are now only required to be a current client of a Homeless Court service provider. Previously, participants had to fully complete a service provider's recovery program before applying for Clean Plates.

"Reducing barriers for homeless individuals looking to get back on their feet is critical to ending the cycle of homelessness," San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. "Combining this program with the Homeless Court will allow more folks to get rid of parking fines and on the road to a better life."

As part of their application to Clean Plates, eligible program participants must submit the citation or citations issued by the city in addition to proof of their participation in a valid recovery program. Applicants are not eligible if they have participated in the program before or if they are disqualified for Homeless Court by the city attorney or the district attorney.

Potential applicants can visit homelesscourtprogram.org for information on the Homeless Court and Clean Plates process and how to apply.

The first Homeless Court session in which Clean Plates program cases will be heard is scheduled for Sept. 18.

"Expanding the Clean Plates program will help alleviate one of the financial burdens homeless individuals face as they take steps to get back on their feet," City Attorney Mara Elliott said. "This collaboration between the city, county and Homeless Court is especially important as we work together to address homelessness in San Diego."

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