A Ballard church is offering the city its parking lot to start a safe parking program for people who live in their vehicles.
It's a sign of hope for a long-stalled project. The Ballard Homes for All Coalition has been trying to start a parking program since 2007, but the effort stalled without church commitments ("Isaac Chapiro lost his parking space, then lost it all," Dec. 8-14, 2010).
If the congregation approves the proposal, Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church at Northwest Eighty-fifth Street and Twentyfourth Avenue Northwest could start a pilot with three to five vehicles as early as September, said Rev. Steve Grumm, Our Redeemer's minister of church and community.
Grumm said the church is offering to provide restrooms and a weekly meal for vehicle dwellers, with no time limit on their stay. In turn, he said, the committee is asking the Human Services Department to provide a site manager who can screen participants and provide services to help people become self-sufficient.
Organizers hope assistance from the city will prompt other churches to join the project, which is based on safe parking programs that accommodate dozens of car campers in Kitsap County, Oregon and California.
The congregation will vote on the proposal sometime in the next two months. A church committee is working with the city's Human Services Department to identify what's needed and finalize a set of rules that campers would have to agree to in order to participate.