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Safe Park Indy

Safe Park Indy is a citizen-led initiative to provide safe overnight parking, basic amenities and a connection to social services for the unsheltered in Indianapolis living in their cars.

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What's safe parking?

Safe parking is a tested and proven strategy that has bridged the gap for homeless individuals in communities across the country for 20+ years.

Safe parking provides access to safe, legal overnight parking for individuals and families living in their vehicles, along with case management, a connection to social services, and access to basic human services, like clean water, food, restrooms and phone charging stations. Locations such as businesses and places of worship provide their parking lots for use during the evening, overnight and early morning hours to host unhoused individuals in their cars.

The safe parking model typically includes:

  • Community collaboration and input

  • An intake process with housing navigation assistance.

  • Defined hours of operation at specific locations, with permitted guests sheltering in their cars in the parking lot

  • Restroom facilities, security personnel and on-site outreach, such as food distribution

  • Guest accountability

  • A path to housing

Safe parking programs are proven to provide:

  • Increased safety and security for people and their property

  • Increased access to services and employment and/or education opportunities

  • Improved rest, which can lead to better outcomes in areas such as physical and mental health and employment

  • More day-to-day stability

Safe parking is not intended to be a permanent solution, but rather helps people stay safe -- and connected to social services -- while on the path to finding stable housing. 

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The Need in Indianapolis

Even by modest estimates, Indy has far more individuals needing shelter than we have available space. While there are numerous safe parking programs around the country, Indy has no such initiative -- until now.

Safe parking is not meant to replace shelters and long-term housing; it's an emergency stopgap for those with nowhere else to turn.

The 2023 Point-in-Time Count identified more than 1,600 homeless individuals in Indianapolis. But because most surveys of people experiencing homelessness exclude or undercount people living in their vehicles, the actual number of individuals experiencing vehicular homelessness is unknown; some experts estimate more than 100,000 nationwide. Sheltering in vehicles is often a first stop for individuals who lose permanent housing. Without intervention and support, many fall deeper into homelessness and may eventually end up on the streets. 

The reasons that people experiencing homelessness reside in their cars rather than in shelters are many and may include:

  • Long waiting lists for transitional and/or affordable housing

  • Lack of available shelter space, or appropriate space to keep a family unit together (particularly for couples, families with children, LGBTQ individuals and people with pets)

  • Available shelter space may be inaccessible to people with disabilities or inappropriate for some individuals (e.g., some people with PTSD)

  • Shelter hours are incompatible with work schedules or are too far from work locations

  • Desire for stability, autonomy and privacy

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Get Involved

Safe Park Indy is growing its network of stakeholders and community collaborators ahead of our anticipated launch in 2024. 

We are actively recruiting volunteers for our working group, particularly those with a background in law, social work, public policy, development/fundraising and those with lived experience with homelessness. 

We'd also like to connect with places of worship and businesses who would like to learn more about being a safe parking lot host. Lots need to be within Marion County and available for our guests between roughly 6 pm and 7 am.

Thanks for submitting!

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