SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- The Springfield City Council is expected to discuss ways to potentially expand their current overnight parking program at a meeting Monday night.
Unless a church decides to open an emergency shelter indoors, the city’s overnight parking program is the only year-round shelter program available to the homeless in the city.
The program provides safe and legal places for people to sleep in vehicles, campers, trailers or Conestoga huts, as long as the site is supervised by the city.
They said under the current car camping program, city code allows churches and industrial zoned sites to host up to three vehicles or campers.
However, advocates are trying to change that.
"We're trying to expand at least another 8 or 9 spots for singles and couples because those are under-served in our community," said Kris McAlister, a volunteer with the Springfield Shelter Rights Alliance (SSRA.)
No industrial property owners in Springfield participate in the program, but there are about 8 churches that do.
At the meeting, the city staff is expected to discuss allowing other community organizations such as businesses to host.
McAlister said he believes these host sites shouldn't be in area where there's a lot of homes, and heavy traffic.
He also said this program should be a temporary way to help the un-housed population, and not a permanent solution.
"There's no cookie cutter cause just like there's no cookie cutter fix, and programs like car camping, like the manages camps, like programs at the mission are what we're trying to do to meet where they are not necessarily where we want them to be," he said.
The city's work session is Monday night at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall in Springfield.
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