Allowing homeless people to sleep in cars a poor idea
The bill proposed by Maui County Council Member Kelly King to allow people without homes to sleep in their parked cars is a poorly conceived idea. It is like much legislation that sounds good and feels good but is completely impractical.
Allowing people to sleep “overnight” in cars in public areas such as county parking lots would make it impossible to prevent people from living in cars permanently 24 hours, seven days per week in public parking areas.
It is easy to see where this would lead: permanent encampments of homeless people living in old clunkers at public parking lots. I entirely disagree with Ms. King that this bill would provide “safe areas” for families where “children could get a good night’s rest and be ready for school.”
I see areas of drug and alcohol use that I doubt would be used by many families concerned about safety. Once these encampments became entrenched, it would be very difficult to remove them, as witnessed by Honolulu.
The bill is a quick but ineffective attempt to solve the homeless situation aimed at giving Ms. King some political benefit without spending any money.
A real solution for homeless families would involve actual shelters that would be safe, but that would take money and more political capital than Ms. King seems willing to invest. I suggest that if Ms. King wants to do a pilot project with her proposed bill she start with the street in front of her own residence.