Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez and homeless advocates met Wednesday to highlight a new "Safe Parking" site in North Hills meant to give those living in cars and recreational vehicles a safe harbor to spend the night in the San Fernando Valley.
The site, which is the city's first, has been up and running since September, city officials said. It's operated by North Valley Caring Services at 15453 Rayen Street and accommodate 20 cars and five RVs each night.
"Participants are provided with a safe place to park at night and connections to services and resources," according to a statement issued by Rodriguez's office.
The facility includes security, showers, a food pantry and clothing donation programs.
The group running the program hopes to expand, North Valley Caring Services Executive Director Ivette Pineda said.
They're seeking $30,000 in donations to allow them to hire a staffer to be at the site every day, which would allow showers to operate five days a week instead of the current three, she said. The group is also trying to obtain five laptop computers so those using the facility can conduct job searched and work on their resumes.
The project is the result of a collaboration between Rodriguez's office and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, officials said. Rodriguez represents the 7th City Council District.
The program, which is based on a similar one started in Santa Barbara, is needed, North Valley Caring Services Community Liaison Manny Flores said.
"We just had an accident a couple days ago where someone lost their lives because a car ran into a (parked) car while they were sleeping," he said.
Flores was referring to a crash on Sunday in Pacoima in which a man who was sleeping in his car was killed when another vehicle slammed into his vehicle, Los Angeles Police Department officials said. The driver fled the scene on foot and remained at large Wednesday.
By providing a safe place to sleep, as well as services, "This affords our participants the ability to concentrate on the task at hand, which is to find housing, find jobs and move through homelessness," Flores said.
The community seems to be embracing the idea, he added.
"We're very fortunate to count on the support of our councilwoman, Monica Rodriguez, and also law enforcement," Flores said. "The community has really galvanized itself behind this program to support it, because they understand that they're in our community anyway, so we might as well keep them safe."
For more information, or to donate, visit North Valley Caring Services' website at nvcsinc.org.