Park Host Program to provide rent-free housing in Santa Ana

If the pilot program works out, Santiago, Centennial and two other parks are next.
SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Four dozen applicants are under review to be the person or family who will live rent-free in a fifth wheel RV at a Santa Ana Park.

The City's Park Host Program will kick off with a trial run at Thornton Park.

Lisa Rudloff, the executive director of parks and recreation and community services, said this is something she saw work with the City of Encinitas, where she was previously employed.

"Free utilities, they can have a job, but in exchange we would like for them to be the ambassador of the park, you know, to create those relationships with the community," Rudloff said.

In addition, the host could address some of the issues seen in parks in the city. "There is vandalism, there is graffiti and there are not very positive things happening within the parks," Rudloff said.

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The nonprofit group LifeMoves in Northern California has created an interim housing community on a site that was previously used as a car storage facility.

If the pilot program works out, Santiago, Centennial and two other parks are next.

The department has five nearly brand-new fifth wheels to use, thanks to federal funding. They were previously used at homeless shelters to isolate people testing positive for COVID-19.

"We'll be deep-cleaning them prior to someone getting in and utilizing them we'll go and we'll set it up," Rudloff said.

Along with plans for new amenities and events at Santa Ana Parks, city staff said they want someone to keep an eye on things and help keep parks active to discourage crime.

Rudloff said the host will have access to park security, rangers and police, when they see fit.

Some of the fifth wheels can expand to accommodate families with multiple children and immigration status will not be questioned.
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