Support the Café

Search our Site

Churches partner to provide a place for homeless families to park overnight

Churches partner to provide a place for homeless families to park overnight

Prince of Peace Lutheran, St. Andrew’s Episcopal and Sacred Heart Catholic are some of the partners in Rotating Safe Car Park in Saratoga, California.

Christian Century:

The idea for the Rotating Safe Car Park at Prince of Peace emerged in 2017. The church, which is predominantly white and affluent and has a median age of about 55, had been participating in a rotating winter shelter, taking turns with other faith communities to host homeless men in their fellowship halls for a few months of the year. When the program shut down two years ago, the church formed a task force to find a new way to serve. Members of the task force came across safe car parks, which have been hosted by faith communities up and down the West Coast, and were immediately drawn to the idea. They wanted to continue providing shelter to the homeless, instead of providing one-off services such as cooking meals or donating clothing, but they also knew that building affordable housing or a permanent shelter was beyond their capabilities.

The City of Saratoga gave the Rotating Safe Car Park a modest amount of funding and let the program proceed with a six-month pilot. The probationary period went by without incident, and the program became permanent. Now the Rotating Safe Car Park has 17 partners: 11 houses of worship and one community college that provide lots, volunteers, meals, and other forms of assistance, and five support partners, including the city, social service agencies, the sheriff, and a local YMCA that allows guests to use its showers. Puck attributes the program’s continued success to this community backing.

Some congregations were fearful of bringing a dozen homeless people onto church property at night and were reluctant to get on board. Jani Wild, a priest at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, a partner that hosted the program in July, said her church’s governing board and congregation initially expressed concern.

“It’s hard to get people to realize they need to love their neighbors no matter who their neighbors are,” she said. “The biggest thing was understanding who the guests were. There’s worry about the other person. There’s worry that they’re going to be disruptive, they’re going to be messy, they’re going to smell, and the facilities will get trashed. None of that happened, and none of that has happened at any of the churches.”


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café