EL CAJON, Calif. — The transformation is just about complete along North Magnolia Avenue on the border of El Cajon.
Where there was once a large homeless encampment, there’s now a designated overnight safe parking site for those experiencing homelessness and living out of their vehicles. The lot will serve as a hub of sorts, to offer supportive services for those people.
“We often see is those who are homeless and in their vehicles — they’re typically first-time homeless, so safe parking is a very unique, cost-effective way to assist these individuals to access those resources and really move from the car to housing without actually ending up on the street,” said Teresa Smith, CEO of Dreams For Change.
The lot is scheduled to open Wednesday, Aug. 10.
It’ll have security, toilet facilities and handwashing stations.
People can park overnight, then will have to leave during the day.
“It’s a major improvement in that it’s cleaned up. Folks are not around all day long, milling around and possibly getting into some sort of trouble,” said Don McKay, who works nearby.
The encampment was cleared out back in May.
For a long time, people living and working nearby complained about criminal activity.
“It was out of control — people selling drugs, using drugs, sex crimes happening there. I mean, we definitely wanted that out of there,” El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells told FOX 5.
Wells says the parking site is a step in the right direction, but still worries it could re-create problems of the past.
“It attracts more homelessness to the area — and you know when you’re bringing more homelessness, whether you like it or not, you create more drug sales, thefts, property crimes, violent crimes. I’m happy to believe it’s all going to be good. We’ll wait and see — address problems as they come up,” Wells said.