Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Homeless in your Prius

May 22 2009
Santa Barbara charity launches a safe parking programme for the city‘s "vehicle vagabonds" An increasing number of working homeowners in Santa Barbara, California, are having to live in their vehicles after losing their homes in the mortgage crisis, the local press has reported. With the outlay for sub-prime mortgages (a loan with a high rate of interest that is offered to people who do not qualify for a basic loan), professionals have been losing their homes, and avoid street homelessness only by living in their vehicles. According to Gary Linker, executive director of US homeless charity New Beginnings, middle-class society in Santa Barbara is "fast disappearing" as a result of the unaffordable property prices. Because of this, New Beginnings has launched a safe parking programme to provide secure locations for "vehicle vagabonds", while helping them find permanent accommodation. New Beginnings occupies 12 parking lots, including public car parks and church forecourts across Santa Barbara, which are currently home to 55 vehicles. Linker said: "The profile of the people enrolled in the programme varies. There are people who are disabled, substance abusers and war veterans. Perhaps surprisingly, around half of the people have jobs". There are an estimated 73,000 rough sleepers in Santa Barbara - more than any other US city. A survey completed by 3,000 of them in 2007 revealed 250 were sleeping in their cars. Meanwhile, back in the UK, a recent study carried out by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has revealed more than half of housing professionals believe the risk of homelessness has increased in their local areas, as a result of rising repossessions. Of the 1,000 questioned for the CIH study, more than 500 said the risk of homelessness had increased. Abigail Davies, head of policy at the CIH, said: "It is our belief that around 10 per cent of people who have their homes repossessed will present as priority homeless. "If 45,000 households are predicted to face repossession this year it could add over 4,000 to the homelessness figures." Which could mean an extra 4,000 readers of The Pavement.