City of Bellevue to start safe parking pilot program for those living in cars

Jan 18, 2023, 5:56 PM | Updated: 6:08 pm
safe parking...
Rhoda and Melvin Price pause at their car after eating at the Hope Center on June 21, 2022. Melvin, his wife and two step daughters, have been living in their caravan for the last year as they look for an affordable apartment. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

People who are living in their cars will soon be able to access city-sponsored safe parking in Bellevue.

The city will start a pilot program later this year to give some people a place to park away from roads, where they can access resources such as showers, toilets, electricity, laundry, and kitchens.

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Bianca Siegl, assistant director of Citywide Policy and Programs for the city, said Bellevue will contract with an organization to provide services such as counseling and case management, with the goal of helping people who are living in cars to get into more permanent housing.

“The pilot program is being developed in response to a request from our city council to explore safe parking as a solution to help folks living in their cars or other vehicles in Bellevue to find safety and stability so they can access permanent housing,” Siegl said.

The city did a count in 2021 and found more than 80 vehicles with individuals and families living in them.

Parking spots for 20 vehicles will be set aside at the Lincoln Center, a city-owned property in Bellevue’s Wilburton neighborhood that sits just east of I-405. This property has nothing to do with the Lincoln Square shopping center downtown. Siegl said the parking lot is close to City Hall, as well as public transit and other services.

“We’ve received positive feedback from community members that we’ve spoken with … I think folks have generally been really supportive of finding a place where people who are needing to live in their vehicles are able to get off the street, not violate parking code, and have a place where they can access the supportive services that they need,” Siegl said.

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The plan is for the safe parking pilot program to begin sometime over the summer. The city council approved $450,000 per year to run the program.

The city also hopes some religious services in Bellevue may be able to open up some of their parking lots to help provide safe parking.

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City of Bellevue to start safe parking pilot program for those living in cars