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Safe parking program for homeless veterans is launching in West L.A.

Safe parking program for homeless veterans is launching in West L.A.
Safe parking programs give those without shelter a spot where they can spend the night in their vehicles. Thomas Goodwin and his daughter Leilani Miranda Duenez Goodwin, above, participate in a program in Santa Barbara. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Homeless veterans who live in their cars will soon be able to park overnight on the Department of Veterans Affairs' West Los Angeles campus, City Councilman Mike Bonin has announced.

The pilot program will provide the veterans an assigned spot where they may sleep safely, as well as access to social services and eventually housing, Bonin's office said Friday.

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The program on the sprawling campus will launch in the next two weeks and is being run by the nonprofit group Safe Parking L.A. It initially will serve 10 vehicles, but could later accommodate dozens more, Safe Parking L.A.'s executive director, Dr. Scott Sale, said in a statement provided by the councilman's office.

Bonin said the program's launch demonstrated "the VA's renewed commitment to serving our homeless veterans." More than 35 neighborhood council and homeowners groups on the Westside supported the proposal, his office said.

The city now has three safe parking sites; the others are in South Los Angeles and Koreatown.

Using vehicles as a primary shelter has become a fact of life in Los Angeles, where more than 34,000 people are homeless. However, neighbors and businesses complain about the trash and human waste from the parked campers, cars and RVs. Those who live in the vehicles criticize city rules barring them from parking in some residential and commercial areas.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who represents the Westside, said in the statement that it was "important to find partners like the VA who will create safe parking areas for the more than 8,500 Angelenos currently living in cars, vans and campers."

Bonin said he's seeking additional safe parking sites on the Westside.

Twitter: @dakotacdsmith

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