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First month of Bellevue’s safe parking program yields some positive results

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(The Center Square) – The City of Bellevue’s program to provide spaces for homeless people living in their vehicles has opened this month with reports of success already.

According to Bellevue Homelessness Outreach Program Manager Nico Quijano, as of Tuesday he has referred 11 households comprising 35 people to the program in its first month of operations. The 35 people include 16 adults and 19 children as young as six months old.

The center was expected to provide space for up to 20 people.

One of the families in the program is reportedly accepting keys to a new apartment this week. Quijano said one parent told him they received a job offer.

“I don’t want to misrepresent the situation, not every family or individual in this program is going to be housed overnight,” Quijano said in a city council meeting on Tuesday. “I’m proud to report that for at least the duration of this pilot, we’ll have enthusiastic staff working every day to help people living in their vehicles figure out what comes next.”

Last February, the city reached an agreement with 4 Tomorrow in the amount of $672,350 for this year. The agreement also includes an option to extend to June 1, 2025, for a total contract amount not to exceed $900,000, to complete the development of, and facilitate, the Safe Parking Pilot Program.

The city struggled to find a third-party organization to run the program since it first issued a request for proposals in the beginning of 2023.

Bellevue originally dedicated up to $450,000 annually in 2023 and 2024 to implement the pilot program as part of the city’s homelessness response efforts.

The Safe Parking pilot program provides a parking area that is off-street for homeless people living in their vehicles. The Lincoln Center in Bellevue is the set location for the program, with 37,000 square feet of parking space.

4 Tomorrow made interior improvements to the day center, which is where clients have access to on-site amenities including restrooms, a kitchen, laundry facilities and Wi-Fi, plus support from staff in finding housing.

4 Tomorrow is now working to implement a code of conduct and safety plan, which were approved by the Bellevue Police Department.