Managing Homelessness in Parking

By Kristen Becker, PE

IPMI Blog- Homelessness in ParkingPeople just don’t realize how parking affects many aspects of our communities. It’s not just about rates and time limits; we also deal with other challenges, including the homelessness crisis. It’s a tough topic no one wants to discuss.

The City of Spokane, Wash., has been trying to address the impacts of vehicle habitation throughout our residential communities. Our parking enforcement officers are dealing with matters that go far beyond a simple parking ticket, and the city is dealing with the extensive costs of monitoring and responding to residential complaints regarding dilapidated vehicles populating the streets. The challenge is significant and the cost is great.

Towing companies are trying to provide the resources necessary to handle the size of motor homes and campers, and the city faces other considerations when the vehicles are purchased at auction for pennies on the dollar and then recycled back to residential streets. Thousands of complaints are received and our parking enforcement resources have been dispatched and redirected from their daily duties to identify vehicles that are immobile and derelict. Often, the vehicles don’t run and become gathering spots for illicit activities.

This matter goes far beyond parking management operations and the sensitivity of removing someone’s home from the streets is contentious. We are trying to find the balance of how to manage this complicated social issue and the associated costs. We look forward to sharing our experience at the 2020 IPMI Conference.

Kristen Becker, PE, is development services center director with the City of Spokane, Wash. She will be presenting on this topic at the 2020 IPMI Conference & Expo, May 31 – June 3, in San Antonio, Texas. For information and to register, click here.