FULLERTON (CBSLA) — A movement to allow homeless people to park and sleep in their cars in church parking lots seems like the Christian thing to do, but not everybody in one Orange County town is living by the Golden Rule.
“Our belief is we do see everybody is, ultimately, a child of God,” Father Dennis Kriz with the St. Philip Benizi Church in Fullerton told CBS2 News. “If not us, who?”
His church’s has a strip mall and a neighborhood on either side of its parking lot, which the has been offered up as a safe haven for homeless people in the area. It’s the latter who want the indigent to go sleep somewhere else.
“If we don’t care, this, 20 years from now, could really bite us,” said Father Dennis.
If approved, the program, which would be made possible by the homeless advocate organization Illumination Foundation, would allow homeless persons to park 20 cars in the large parking lot from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. The group would also be providing security and services.
The goal is to eventually get the homeless out of the parking lot and into proper housing with mental health resources within 15 days.
“Both of the major agencies here — Mercy House and Pathways To Hope — are simply swamped,” said the father. “One of the people sleeping here on our grounds has been on a list for two years.”
Father Dennis has the blessing of the diocese, but his own parishioners and nearby residents are torn.
“I’m all for helping people who actually wanna get out of the situation that they’re in, but there aren’t any guarantees that that’s the population that’s gonna be coming here,” said neighbor David Soto. “I worry that — can my kids come out here and play? Can they be unattended, or do I have to be out here every day with them?”
“I understand; they need help, and that’s something, and if it can be done where it’s not gonna take away from my property value, for instance, or cause issues in our whole neighborhood,” echoed resident Alice Valliere.
The plan is awaiting final city approval.