Living in Vehicles and Homeless Information

The City of Mountain View has been actively pursuing initiatives that would help local homeless and people living in vehicles get back on a path to permanent housing, while providing short-term emergency relief in the form of temporary pilot programs. In March 2018, City Council approved the continuation of these pilot programs, which leverage partnerships with County services, regional nonprofits and local faith-based groups. Although the March report to Council included additional options for parking enforcement, the Council chose not to significantly change parking restrictions until more options could be developed, such as the launching of a pilot safe parking program by local faith-based groups. The Council also added additional funding for elevated parking enforcement.

Through regional and local partnerships, the City has been able to coordinate pilot programs for such things as local waste-dumping services, sanitary services and additional street cleanings. The City has also helped to fund more on-the-ground outreach. A Community Services Agency (CSA) Outreach Worker, a Case Manager with Peninsula Healthcare Connections and a Mountain View Police Department outreach officer have been working to connect homeless and people living in vehicles with available services from the regional Emergency Assistance Network, including the County’s mobile health-care program and programs for supportive and/or rapid-rehousing. The on-the-ground outreach provides coordinated process to check on the welfare of those living on the streets and to assist surrounding housed neighbors with any concerns.

 

STUDY, SURVEY AND STRATEGY

The Santa Clara County count of homeless residents serves as a baseline for the understanding of homelessness in the region.  This survey captures individuals and families sleeping in emergency shelters and transitional housing, as well as people sleeping on the streets, in vehicles, in abandoned properties, or in other places not meant for human habitation.  Mountain View homelessness nearly doubled from 139 in 2013, to 276 in 2015.  These numbers have risen further countywide in 2017.  For Mountain View there are 416 homeless, up by 51 percent from 2015.

For more than two years, the City has been studying ways to address the rise in homelessness and residents living in vehicles, guided by detailed reports on the feasibility of safe parking options, regional stakeholder input and a community census. We are looking for feasible solutions to short-term human services support while putting people back on the path to stable housing. These efforts affect both housed and unsheltered residents.

Shorter-term strategies include, providing 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:

  • Mobile showers, laundry, and an ADA compliant portable toilet
  • Free waste-tank caps to prevent leaks, with further analysis of additional waste management options
  • Regular street cleaning in areas with RV parking
  • Support for exploring cold weather 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.

Longer-term strategies include, services authorized by the City Council on March 7, 2017, extending several of the short-term solutions mentioned above including funding for 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 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. 

 

October 24 City Council Study Session Update

At the affordable housing study session, staff estimated that the City’s various housing fee programs would generate approximately $78 million over the next four years, based on the current projects that are in the pipeline. Staff recommended that approximately $50 million be invested in general affordable housing developments at 60% AMI and below for a goal of 350-400 units, and up to $28 million for permanent supportive housing/rapid rehousing for a goal of 200-250 units. The City Council supported this investment strategy. Staff is working with the County, non-profit developers, and external partners to explore how to achieve this goal.

Safe Parking "Lots of Love" Pilot Program

Lots of Love is a new, independent non-profit that has taken on the challenge to provide a safe space with overnight parking and supportive services for small pilot program assisting those in need in our community. They are an important part of a number of new safe parking programs in the region seeking to help the growing number of residents and regional employees living out of their cars and RVs. This program is funded by Santa Clara County and the City of Mountain View (Mountain View funding for the pilot program ($55,300 to June 2018- June 2019) County Funding for the pilot program ($287,525 to June 2018-June 2020).

The City supports this modest, but important contribution to addressing the 250-300 residents living in vehicles on Mountain View streets. This pilot program is not intended to be a solution to the affordable housing crisis, and is not the only answer to getting residents living in vehicles off neighborhood streets. The City and the County continue implementing a number of affordable housing strategies and supportive services for the most vulnerable unstably housed, homeless, and low-income families.

Lots of Love is a new, independent non-profit that has taken on the challenge to provide a safe space with overnight parking and supportive services for small pilot program assisting those in need in our community. They are an important part of a number of new safe parking programs in the region seeking to help the growing number of residents and regional employees living out of their cars and RVs. This program is funded by Santa Clara County and the City of Mountain View. Each supports this modest, but important contribution to addressing the 250-300 residents living in vehicles on Mountain View streets. This pilot program is not intended to be a solution to the affordable housing crisis, and is not the only answer to getting residents living in vehicles off neighborhood streets. The City and the County continue implementing a number of affordable housing strategies and supportive services for the most vulnerable unstably housed, homeless, and low-income families.

One church signed on and a number of others are considering it, and are going through similar outreach and engagement with their neighbors. Initial plans include three to four vehicles hosted at churches, which does not require a City permit as it is a compatible temporary use. A Temporary Use Permit (TUP) application would be required for hosting more vehicles and services on church property. Services will include case management by CSA with on-going engagement, and lot monitoring will be provided. There will be a number of ways you can reach out to the non-profit to offer feedback on the three-month pilot program; the aim of the pilot period is to ensure any issues are addressed. The Lots of Love pilot program starts on or about July 2, 2018.

  • To reach the Lots of Love telephone hotline call (650) 314-1962 (to report non-urgent, non-threatening situations). 

Implementing a Three-pronged Strategy

Committed More than $1 Million Dollars to Over the Next Two and a Half Years

Though we have been looking at this issue for some time, most of the resource-intensive initiatives being implemented are NEW.  A new Mobile Outreach and Casework Program began in March 2017, a new Community Outreach Officer was deployed in July 2017 and longer-term affordable housing strategies were considered in September 2017.

These initiatives follow the City’s three-pronged strategy, which is expected to take at least two years to help those in need and assist our neighborhoods:

  • Implement several short-term initiatives aimed at providing basic human services designed to start those in need on the path to more permanent future housing. This includes a new mobile social worker outreach at CSA jointly funded by the City and County, and case manager program with Peninsula Healthcare Connections.
  • Explore several long-term strategies to increase the overall housing supply with an emphasis on affordable housing.

  • Dedicate a new Community Outreach Police Officer to further enhance and coordinate community outreach and law enforcement operations (newly funded as part of the Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget).

We are also continuing to combine our efforts with other local and regional agencies to make a more substantial impact. Through the help of County of Santa Clara, community and faith-based groups, and members of the Santa Clara County EAN, like the Community Services Agency of Mountain View (CSA), we now have a better understanding of our local needs.

Continued outreach and regional cooperation has allowed us to ramp up outreach for homeless prevention services and homeless case management to address the unique needs of each individual. Some of the existing services we’re connecting people to include: CSA’s food and nutrition program; Mountain View’s Senior Nutrition Program at the Senior Center; showers, breakfast and CSA social worker access at Hope’s Corner, and showers and laundry services through Dignity on Wheels at CSA.

As we move into winter months, we are also working with the County on a proposed pilot program, funded by the County for a cold weather shelter at the Trinity United Methodist and will provide a pilot program for RV-waste disposal services.  (News:  Cold Weather Shelter Opens in Mountain View)

Related Council Reports

Update on Initiatives to Assist Homeless and Unstably Housed, and Consideration of Parking Enforcement Options — City Council Report, March 7 2018 (Item 7.1).

Affordable Housing Priorities and Strategic Framework – City Council Study Session Report , September 12, 2017.

Strategies to Assist the Homeless and Unstably Housed Residents –  City Council Report, March 7, 2017.  

Update on Efforts Related to Homeless Residents Living in Vehicles, and Consideration of Direction on Options – City Council Report, October 4, 2016. 

Action plan

Within the larger direction established by Council at the October 2016 and March 2017 Council meetings linked above, staff developed a fifty (50) item work plan of action items (Homeless Initiatives Work Plan). Click here for a the work plan progress as of December 2017.  City continues to look at solutions and options. Status is summarized below and a further update on the homeless initiatives and enforcement options will be provided to the City Council on March 6, 2018:

    • 33 Action items are completed
    • 11 Action items have been implemented and are now ongoing
    • 5 Action items are in progress
    • 1 Item is on hold
         

Mountain View Code on living in vehicles

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. 

The City continues to enforce other code provisions such as vehicles parking for more than 72 hours when applicable. Visit this helpful webpage. 


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.

Looking to Help?

The best way for people to help is to volunteer or donate money or items to members of the Emergency Assistance Network (EAN), which include the Community Services Agency here in Mountain View. Get more information about local EANs and the Community Services Agency in the links below.

Santa Clara County Hotlines are also available:

  • Call 2-1-1 for Health and Human Services in Santa Clara County
  • Homeless Helpline: Call the County Office of Supportive Housing at (408) 793-0550 to ask for assistance or report a homeless person in need in Santa Clara County (excluding San Jose)
  • Homeless can register to receive text messages about services as by sending a text message to 888777

HelpFul Resources for Our Homeless Neighbors

Santa Clara County Hotlines are also available:

  • Call 2-1-1 for Health and Human Services in Santa Clara County
  • Homeless Helpline: Call the County Office of Supportive Housing at (408) 793-0550 to ask for assistance or report a homeless person in need in Santa Clara County (excluding San Jose)
  • Homeless can register to receive text messages about services as by sending a text message to 888777

QUESTIONS AND FEEDBACK

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 Department/Parking Enforcement" from the menu.

Periodic updates are also available by, following the City's social media channels, which you can access through www.mountainview.gov/social.

 

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