L.A. parking program seeks to provide safety to homeless people sleeping in cars

GLASSELL PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Alberto Hernandez and his service dog Gordo have called his vehicle home for the past five months.

The disabled 59-year-old was forced out of his apartment, unable to pay rent in Los Angeles.

"Rent, I don't have enough. I can't afford $500," Hernandez says.

He's not alone.

The latest figures in L.A. County show more than 16,500 people live in their vehicles.

That's up nearly 5% from last year.

"Part of the reason of moving around constantly in my car was always trying to find a safe place where I didn't feel where I was around a bad situation, where I might get robbed," said Zaq Woodward.

To try to help, Los Angeles started offering safe places to park.

One such location is located in Glassell Park. The program is connected with the non-profit, The Shower of Hope and Exodus Recovery.

The city-owned parking lot has room for up to 20 vehicles a night. People can enter at 7 p.m., seven days a week, and they must leave by 7 a.m. There's a restroom, security and workers who can connect people with services to help them find a more permanent home.

But there are still major challenges.

"The city of L.A. is looking to expand safe parking lots, but unfortunately right now, we only have capacity of around 300," said Mel Tillekeratne, Executive Director of The Shower of Hope.

For Hernandez, his case manager helped him find an apartment. After two months sleeping in a safe lot, he's heading to his new home.
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