Living in Vehicles and Homeless Information

Santa Clara County Homeless Census and Survey Report

Click here to go to the Santa Clara County 2017 Homeless Census and Survey Report 

issued on June 30, 2017.

Implementing a Three-pronged Strategy

To help those in Need and to Help Assist our Neighborhoods

The City of Mountain View is pursuing the following strategy to help those in our community living in vehicles or without shelter:

  • Implementing several short-term initiatives aimed at providing basic human services designed to start those in need on the path to more permanent future housing
  • Exploring several long-term strategies to increase the overall housing supply with an emphasis on affordable housing
  • Adding a new Community Outreach Police Officer to further enhance and coordinate community outreach and law enforcement operations

Mountain View has committed more than $1 million dollars to help address homelessness over the next two and a half years.

New Initiatives: Most of these Initiatives are new for our City. We began the mobile Outreach and Caseworker Program in March 2017; we added a new Community Outreach Officer beginning in July 2017; and we will be adding more new homeless and long term housing strategies for consideration in September 2017.

City Council Updates

On March 7, 2017, the City Council approved several additional measures to help local residents who may not have access to stable housing, such as those living in vehicles.  Approved recommendations include continuing programs like the funding of a mobile Outreach Worker based Community Services Agency (CSA) and a Caseworker with the County until June of 2019.  These new programs help to connect residents to support and stable housing options.  Additional funding was also provided for a porta-potti at Rengstorff Park and a pilot RV waste disposal program.  The City Council also supported on-going work with other agencies and community based organizations, engagement to faith-community, monitoring safe parking options, enhancing homeless client surveys, continuing to develop measurable goals for the new programs and reviewing parking and signage. 

See the staff report prepared for the March 7, 2017 City Council Meeting


Help for Mountain View's Homeless

Homelessness and the regional housing crisis are significant issues for communities throughout the Bay Area, including Mountain View. According to the 2015 County homeless census, there were 6,556 homeless persons countywide, with 276 in Mountain View — nearly double the number from 2013. Increasing housing availability and affordability remains a top priority of the City Council, and the City continues to examine a broad range of options for increasing supply and assisting displaced residents. As a result, Mountain View is a recognized leader in addressing the regional problem of insufficient housing supply in the Bay Area.

The City is working collaboratively with Santa Clara County, the Community Services Agency (CSA) and other non-profits locally on homelessness, including those living in Recreation Vehicles (RVs) and other vehicles, with both short-term and long-term actions. For the long-term, the City is increasing the overall housing supply and has passed several ordinances this year that provide assistance to renters and encourage pathways to keep people in their homes, such as dispute resolution. More information about these programs can be found in the Neighborhoods and Housing Menu to the left.

Short-term strategies provide basic human services designed to start those in need on the path to more permanent future housing. Services authorized by City Council on October 4, 2016  include (Council Agenda -  Item 7.1):

  • mobile showers and laundry coordinated by CSA;
  • free waste-tank caps to prevent leaks;
  • regular street cleaning in areas with RV parking;
  • an ADA compliant portable toilet with servicing in Rengstorff Park;
  • support for exploring rotating shelter or safe parking programs by faith-based organizations;
  • on-going review of RV parking areas to assess visibility and safety;
  • a mobile Outreach Worker based at CSA and a Caseworker for the chronically homeless in coordination with the County to link homeless individuals to services;
  • and further analysis of options for a local RV waste-dump site for those living in vehicles.

For questions about the City's homeless initiatives, use AskMV and choose "Homeless/Living in Vehicles" from the menu. 

For questions about parking violations, use AskMV and choose "Police Departments/Parking enforcement" from the menu. Or visit this helpful webpage. 

You may also see updates by following the City's social media channels, which you can access through

Mountain View Code on living in vehicles

The City Council recently authorized the short-term initiatives and continues to look at the long-term options to address homeless residents living in vehicles. The shorter-term efforts will meet some of the basic care needs of those in vehicles and maintenance of the City. The longer-term options will take time in support of a continuum of strategies to expand the availability of housing programs for the homeless and unstably housed residents.

It is helpful to understand that vehicles used for sleeping are not illegal if the vehicle complies with other laws. Enforcement of the Mountain View City Code Chapter 19, Article IX Section 19.111(c), which prohibits vehicles parked on public streets from being used for dwelling purposes has been suspended in light of recent case law on this issue. In Desertrain v. City of Los Angeles, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a similar provision of the City of Los Angeles City Code was unconstitutional.

HelpFul Resources for Our Neighborhoods

The City understands concerns about maintaining the quality of life in Mountain View and balancing interests of those living in vehicles with those of our neighbors. While most residents living in vehicles abide by laws, Mountain View has continued to enforce other code provisions when applicable, such as illegal waste dumping or trespassing.

  • Both residents living in vehicles and neighbors are encouraged to contact the Mountain View Police Department (MVPD) when experiencing any emergency or safety threat by dialing 9-1-1.
  • For non-emergency concerns, call the non-emergency line at (650) 903-6395.
  • You may also report vehicles parked for more than 72 hours by calling our hotline at (650) 903-6358.

HelpFul Resources for Our Homeless Neighbors