Trevor Winnard | Courtesy

About 2,400 Cal Poly students experienced homelessness in 2018. Now, students are petitioning Cal Poly to enact change.

A Safe Parking petition circulating online is asking the University to provide space for students to freely park and sleep in their vehicles overnight, a practice that is illegal on San Luis Obispo City streets. The petition also recommends that Cal Poly provides facilities with a kitchen and restrooms.

The petition cites data from the 2018 Cal Poly Basic Needs Task Force Report, which found that 12% of Cal Poly students face homelessness.

In 24 hours, the petition garnered 443 signatures.

Trenton Dusablon, Tess Loarie, Ila Moncrief, Sharon Ng and Trevor Winnard researched student homelessness and resources for a Political Participation (POLS 316) class project. From there, the students created the petition to address the issue at Cal Poly specifically.

“It’s frustrating to see members of our campus community struggle with basic needs especially now under the pandemic conditions,” Moncrief wrote in an email. “This is a time when the university has to support its student body with adaptive resources.”

The project evolved into the petition after the group learned that students living in cars have nowhere to park and stay.

“I refuse to accept that somebody living in their car should be forced to contend with the strict parking regulations of SLO City when the university has several lots that sit empty for the entire night,” Winnard said.

The petition was released Mar. 2 and has since been shared on social media frequently by Cal Poly students.

The Doerr Family Field parking lot was proposed for the Safe Parking Program. The parking lot is nearest to the Recreation Center and has access to restroom facilities. The petition also takes into account safety concerns and asks Cal Poly to provide adequate lighting for the Safe Parking Program.

Safe Parking programs have been proposed at other California universities, such as the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, Santa Cruz, according to Dusablon. No public university in California has implemented such a program.

“We felt that Cal Poly could be the first,” he said.

Safe Parking Programs implemented across cities have resulted in 5% to 70% of people obtaining housing, according to the Homelessness Policy Research Institute. However, these programs are typically more expansive and put upwards of $100,000 toward services like case management and outreach services.

The group who initiated this petition said they acknowledge that Safe Parking is not a permanent fix to the housing crisis, but they said it will help students until a long-term solution is devised.

The group of students said they hope to reach 1,000 signatures by the end of the quarter.

“We have to show Cal Poly how many students care about this issue and how much they wish to see this program come to fruition,” Moncrief wrote

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