I never knew there was a hidden population of people in church parking lots across the country. Then I read a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle about how some congregations were helping alleviate a crisis of homelessness on the West Coast.
It makes sense, actually. Most days a week, church parking lots are pretty much empty.
I thought the Chronicle’s story was unique until I did a search and found out that church parking lots-and-the-homeless have been covered quite a bit. KTVU, a local TV station, covered the same topic a month ago. Here's the Chronicle's piece:
Last year, Arnell Clark and his girlfriend, Mataele Robertson, moved their young family out of an East Palo Alto house because they could no longer afford the rent. The couple figured they’d get more room in a 34-foot recreational vehicle.
But the stigma hit hard. When they were renters, neighbors used to say hi. But in an RV on the street, “we’re invisible,” said 39-year-old Clark, a laid-off package handler. “It’s the unspoken that tells me how you feel.”
The solution: moving to a church parking lot. For months the couple have stationed their RV in the lots of local churches. They are currently on the East Palo Alto property of St. Samuel Church of God in Christ, an arrangement that Clark finds a blessing…
With no end in sight to soaring housing costs, several Bay Area faith organizations have become a sanctuary of sorts -- not just channeling donations and distributing food, but also offering a safe place for people living in cars or RVs. The arrangement has sometimes grated on neighbors, but for pastors, it’s simply an extension of their mission to serve humanity.
The newspaper offers a list of churches -– mainly in Silicon Valley -– that are letting either RVs or people sleeping in their cards take up space in their lots.
The "Safe Parking" sign that introduces this post is from Morgan Hill Bible Church that's well to the south of San Jose. Back to the feature itself: