California City Considering Simple Proposal To Give Homeless Safe Place For Their Possessions



CREDIT: Wikipedia

As cities like Columbia and Tampa and Palo Alto approve proposals to make life even more difficult on homeless people, the city of Davis, California is moving in the opposite direction.

City officials are currently considering a plan to construct a set of lockers that homeless people could use to store their possessions while they were at work or other appointments.

This may sound like a simple matter, but if you’re living on the streets and have nowhere to safely keep your stuff, you have three options: keep it with you, leave it somewhere in public, or purchase storage space. The first is impractical if you’re working or going somewhere — hauling a few large bags into a job interview isn’t generally advised — the second is risky, and the third can be unaffordable. Public lockers, which homeless people could use under certain conditions like while they’re at work, could fix this problem.

A number of other cities, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Portland (OR), and St. Petersburg currently have free storage space available to homeless people.

If the proposal becomes a reality in Davis, it will be due in large part to the tireless efforts of Lawson Snipes, founder of a local street newspaper called the Spare Changer who is homeless himself. Snipes has been working since 2005 to get lockers installed in the city for homeless people, telling the Sacramento Bee how important it is for homeless people to have a safe space for their possessions. “If someone is really trying to get ahead, how are you going to do that with all your stuff in a backpack on your back?” Snipes said.

Snipes had came close to succeeding in 2007, when a local church built 20 custom wooden lockers. However, the plan soon unraveled when nearby property owners opposed the plan because they feared “there would be too high of a concentration of homeless services in the area,” according to the Sacramento Bee.

However, there is renewed hope for the project among advocates today, which could benefit the estimated 468 homeless people in the Davis area. There is an entirely new bench on the Davis City Council and Dan Wolk, the mayor pro tem of Davis, called the proposal a “wonderful idea.” The biggest question that remains is where the lockers would be placed, a not insignificant hurdle but one Wolk was optimistic they would resolve. The matter could be on the council’s agenda as soon as Tuesday evening.