Dreams for Change: A San Diego shelter for the vehicular homeless


Dreams for Change: A San Diego shelter for the vehicular homeless

Marko Leone and Kevin Martinez

16 March 2019

Dreams for Change is a San Diego, California, nonprofit organization founded in May 2009 by Dr. Teresa Smith with the goal of helping families and individuals in need in the aftermath of the Great Recession and to the present. The group’s first initiative was the Safe Parking Program, which allowed families and individuals a secure location to sleep in their vehicles for the night.

Smith told the WSWS, “During the recession, we saw an increase in numbers for first-time poverty for families and individuals, and most of them were falling into or were homeless. We would send them down to the shelters, but most of them would come back to me and tell me that they weren’t really homeless, but that they had lost their job, and were trying to get back on their feet, but they would currently stay in their car where they are safe.

Dr Teresa Smith

“When we would deal with families, what we saw time and time again were more of them falling into homelessness but living in their car.”

The idea for Dreams for Change was started by graduate students from San Diego State University and the California Western Law School and in its first year helped 350 people, ultimately getting 65 percent of those individuals into secure housing.

“When we started this back in 2009, we had hoped that our program would be more of a transition, a temporary program,” Smith said. “We thought it was going to be a few years kind of project. You know, capture those who were hit by the recession. We thought as the economy began to recover, we would hope to see a dwindling in the need for this program, in hopes that this would be going away.

“But what we really saw was just the…

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