EL CAJON, Calif — A new “safe parking lot” in East County will offer a place to park and sleep for those experiencing homelessness.
It’s available to both families and individuals after opening Wednesday.
The new lot will be located on North Magnolia Avenue on the border of El Cajon and the unincorporated area of East County. The area used to be home to dozens on tents with people living in them. Now it will be an empty parking lot for safe sleeping in cars overnight.
The new lot will be a first of it’s kind for unincorporated East County. It will be county-operated, with 24/7 security and hygiene facilities.
Dreams of Change, a local homeless services provider will have nightly case managers, that can help with housing, finance management and employment.
“It is tough to be in your car, out there without any types of resources,” said Dr. Teresa Smith, the CEO of Dreams of Change.
Smith said “it’s that ability to be able to actually sleep, and we hear that time and time from our current participants: ‘This is the first night of sleep I’ve been able to have since this happened, I felt comfortable.’”
During a press conference at the site of the lot on Wednesday, County Supervisor Joel Anderson vowed to throw resources and support to the area’s neighbors experiencing homelessness.
“I don’t want anybody in my district to slip through the cracks,” said Anderson, whose district covers El Cajon and other parts of East County.
“It’s the Christian thing to do, it’s the neighborly thing to do, but more importantly: its good for all of us,” Anderson said.
Businesses in the area have said it’s better than the tents there before, but they want to see how it goes. Anderson said the new lot is a stepping stone for more homeless services.
Anderson said: “Instead of us in the county sweeping into the cities, and the cities sweeping homelessness back into the unincorporated areas, now we are working together to find real solutions.”
The lot will be open for people to park from 5:30 p.m. to 7 a.m.