Road to Housing
The Road to Housing program (R2H) began in Seattle as the Safe Parking Pilot Program in 2012 under the leadership of City Councilmember Mike O'Brien. Over the last two and a half years, the pilot has demonstrated an effective public-private partnership between the City and faith-based organizations for helping people living in their vehicles get back into housing.
In this partnership, faith-based organizations provide safe places to park, access to a bathroom for participants in the program, and other supports that vary by site such as a regular community meal, microwave, clothing drives, and opportunities to connect with the congregational community. Compass Housing Alliance provides case management, support, and outreach to vehicular residents and potential host organizations.
The two primary goals of the Road to Housing program are
- to assist homeless people living in their vehicles to get back into housing as soon as possible, and
- to reduce neighborhood tensions in communities where vehicular residents tend to congregate
In Seattle and King County, people in their vehicles make up about one-third of the unsheltered population. Faith-based organizations in other parts of the region have already started hosting vehicular residents on their own, so there are opportunities to work with suburban cities and the County on a region-wide approach.
In 2013, the Road to Housing program served 52 vehicular residents, helping 34 households move into a more stable living environment, such as motel vouchers, and transitional or permanent housing. So far in 2014 (January - June), the Road to Housing program has worked with 91 households through case management services, and outreach services has contacted 173 unique households. Program staff work to build relationships with vehicular residents around Seattle, and provide assistance and support for needs identified by individual clients.
In 2014, the Seattle City Council added additional funding to expand the Road to Housing program from a pilot to a citywide program, but more needs to be done to serve this growing population.
Expanding the program means we need more program parking spaces, more host organizations and a faster placement into improved housing options for participants in the program. Expansion also means we will be working with other cities around King County, to provide similar supports to vehicular residents in those communities.
Opportunities to help
There are many ways you can help support this program, and the biggest way is to talk to your congregation about becoming a host site for Road to Housing participants. Program sites usually host between 3-5 vehicles at a time, which can be cars and/or RVs. Currently, there is a high need for safe places to park RVs, with few options available. Your faith-based organization is in a unique position to participate as a R2H program host site, helping individuals & families who are currently living in a vehicle to access a safe place to park, supportive services, and work to transition out of homelessness and into stable housing
Worried about cost?
There is funding available through the City of Seattle to help faith-based organizations make capital improvements to become a program host site.
For more information
If you are interested in learning more about Seattle's Road to Housing program or learning more about becoming a program host site, contact Wayne Wilson with Compass Housing Alliance, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are currently living in your vehicle and are interested in accessing the program, please call the Road to Housing program intake line at (206) 474-1650.