FERNDALE, Wash. — Local nonprofit, Ferndale Community Services (FCS), announced Friday, September15th, they are launching a safe parking pilot program in Ferndale or northern Whatcom County “to provide a secure space for unhoused individuals and families living in their vehicles.”
The FCS announcement added, “By offering clean and secure off-street parking with easy access to essential amenities, including bathrooms and handwashing stations, as well as support services such as resource navigation and referrals, the initiative seeks to address the critical issue of unhoused neighbors’ safety and basic needs. The project recognizes that only when these essential requirements are met can individuals shift their attention towards securing employment, stable housing, and building connections within the community.”
FCS is seeking members for a “Safe Parking Community Workgroup” to “shape the program’s development and success.” Applications can be submitted online or pick up paper applications at the
Community Resource Center (5694 2nd Avenue in Ferndale). The application deadline is Friday, September 29th.
The Center Square published the following story today, September 26th, regarding challenges faced by the City of Bellevue in their effort to implement a similar safe parking program.
Washington city can’t find takers for $450,000 in-car homeless management program
The City of Bellevue continues to struggle finding the right human services organization to operate its safe parking pilot program.
The Safe Parking pilot program would provide a parking area that is off-street for homeless people living in their vehicles. The Lincoln Center in Bellevue is the set location for the program, with 37,000 square feet of parking space. The center is city-owned, but has been used as an interim men’s shelter by Congregations for the Homeless.
The most recent count of homeless people in Bellevue conducted by the city’s homelessness outreach staff confirmed that at least 54 people were living in vehicles within city limits. The previous count was conducted in 2021, which found 83 people living in their vehicles.
In January, city council staff noted that the parking area is expected to hold 20 vehicles of any size.
The city first issued a request for proposals in February, but no viable operators came forward, according to a press release. A second request for proposals was issued in May.
The city stated that “prior requests for operator proposals did not yield proposals that demonstrated the right mix of experience and ability to fully operate the program.”
The city first identified the need for a safe parking program as a priority in 2021.
Vehicle dwellers would have close access to services such as bathrooms, water and showers through the pilot program. The contracted program’s staff members would be tasked with helping vehicle dwellers achieve permanent housing through resources such as employment and education assistance, navigating housing systems, obtaining documentation of identity and overcoming health barriers.
Bellevue dedicated up to $450,000 annually in 2023 and 2024 to implement the pilot program as part of the city’s homelessness response efforts. Up to $450,000 per year would carry through 2024, if an organization is found for the program.
The city stated that it still hopes to launch the safe parking pilot program by the end of the year.
The Center Square reached out to Bellevue to see if the accepted organization would receive the full $450,000, but did not receive a response at the time of publication. Spencer Pauley | The Center Square