She was afraid and harassed, one of 16,000 in LA living in their cars. Then she found an unexpected refuge

Written by admin123 on 2019年12月24日 Categories: 太原桑拿网 Tags: 

As an Uber driver, Lauren Kush tries to keep her Toyota Prius spotless.

But keeping it tidy serves a dual purpose. The 36-year-old woman is homeless and has been sleeping in her car at night, converting the back seat into a bed.
“I usually wake up a few times, just tossing and turning,” she said recently as she grabbed some blankets from her trunk.
“It’s not very comfortable,” Kush said of the tight space. “I’m 5-foot-6 or -7, so I have to make sure I have some legroom, and this is basically it.”
Lauren Kush poses beside the car where she sleeps.
Lauren Kush poses beside the car where she sleeps.
Kush started sleeping in her car when she could no longer afford an apartment in Los Angeles, where median rent for a one-bedroom is $2,350 per month. She’s now among more than 16,000 people in LA County who live in their vehicles — about a quarter of the nearly 60,000 homeless people here.
California’s rising homelessness problem has led to an overall increase of 2.7% nationwide this year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said in a press release Friday.
But while cars, trucks and RVs can be cost-effective alternatives in places with some of the nation’s steepest rents, they lack bathrooms and showers — key amenities for people with jobs but no home. Beyond that, sleeping in them on most city streets is illegal. And they often leave inhabitants vulnerable.
“I was harassed constantly,” Kush said of nights spent parallel parked. “People were screaming or there was a fight.”
Many of those obstacles vanished this year for Kush, however, when she started overnighting in the Prius in a parking lot monitored by a security guard hired to keep watch over an impromptu neighborhood of makeshift shelters.
“I don’t have to worry about being raped,” she said. “I don’t have to be worried about being robbed in the middle of the night.”
The site is run by the nonprofit Safe Parking LA, which offers a “safe and stable place to park the vehicle, remain compliant with local laws, and have access to restroom facilities.”
Homeless car dwellers settle in for the night at a Safe Parking LA lot in Koreatown.
Homeless car dwellers settle in for the night at a Safe Parking LA lot in Koreatown.
“The folks who sleep in these lots come from all different backgrounds,” program coordinator Emily Uyeda Kantrim said, noting that college professors and city employees have found a haven in the protected spaces.
A church in Los Angeles’ Koreatown provided the first lot in March 2018. Since then, the charity has expanded to eight lots with about 120 spaces across America’s second most populous city.
In addition to parking, Uyeda-Kantrim tries to connect clients with housing and services, such as free gym memberships that offer access to showers.
“These people … have somewhere to be during the day and are productive members of society,” Uyeda-Kantrim said. “You are probably sitting next to them very often without even knowing it. They just are really struggling to get back into an apartment.”
Skyrocketing rents boost need for safe spaces
Santa Barbara opened one of the first safe parking lots in 2004. As the crisis of affordable housing has deepened, similar programs have popped up across California, including in San Diego, Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco, which recently opened its first lot.
That pilot program provides spaces for nearly three dozen vehicles and has bathrooms and showers.
“We’re going to identify individuals who are in their vehicles who consider themselves homeless and invit(e) them to park in this facility,” said Jeff Kositsky, director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing in San Francisco, where the $3,700-per-month median rent for a one-bedroom apartment marks the nation’s highest rate.
The rising number of homeless residents has Kositsky “very concerned,” he said, adding that cities may need to recalibrate their thinking given the shortage of affordable housing.
“Maybe we need to start having mobile home parks in urban areas,” he contemplated.

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