Cars to Housing

An innovative 90-day safe-parking + rehousing program for families experiencing homelessness

One third of unsheltered people in Snohomish County live in their vehicles, and many of them are families. With few vacancies in most emergency shelters, an increasing number of families choose to live together in their vehicles so that they can stay together.

Our Cars to Shelter program addresses this issue by providing these families with the valuable combination of safe parking and case management services. Our goal is simple: To help these clients transition into stable permanent housing or other shelter units within 90 days.

Support from Community Groups & Funding from the City of Everett

Everett Faith in Action and the Interfaith Family Shelter partnered to launch this innovative program in July 2019. The City of Everett awarded us an initial grant of $25,000 for site enhancements and case management services. Now that Cars to Housing has fully launched, the Interfaith Family Shelter is also seeking operational funding from multiple grant funders and donors. We are so grateful for the support from our community sponsors, including: Everett Foursquare, First Presbyterian Everett, Bethel Baptist, Everett United Church of Christ, Our Savior’s Lutheran, Trinity Lutheran Everett, Millenia Ministries, Reach Church, Mercy Watch, and Everett Gospel Mission.

Congressman Rick Larsen (second from left) with representatives from Everett Faith in Action and the Interfaith Family Shelter to discuss the Cars to Housing program

Frequently Asked Questions

How does it work?

Cars to Housing is currently hosted at a local church. All personnel and case management services are provided by Interfaith Family Shelter staff. We have five designated parking spots for families, with at least one vacant spot between parked vehicles. This service is only available to families with children. During enrollment, our clients are issued a parking permit to validate their participation. We also provide a portable toilet for our clients’ convenience. Case management services – including screening, intake, parking resident affairs and rehousing plans – are provided onsite. Pets are allowed, but must remain under their owner’s control at all times. The following are not allowed under any circumstances:

  • open flames
  • illegal activities or behaviors
  • weapons
  • substance use

Does this program decrease neighborhood safety? No. Based on other well-proven safe parking models, safe parking lots actually enhance overall neighborhood safety. This is because client families, who are concerned about their own wellbeing and sleep safety, are usually the first to report any unwelcome or suspicious behavior.

Is this an efficient use of public funds? Yes. While the $25,000 grant for the pilot program may seem to be a large amount, the majority of this funding goes toward the Interfaith Family Shelter’s case management and rehousing services, which are essential to help families transition into secure housing within 90 days.

How is local law enforcement involved? Interfaith Family Shelter and Everett Faith in Action representatives work with local law enforcement and emergency personnel to establish safety measures and best practices.

How will local property values be affected by this program? We believe that property values will not be impacted by this program. Typically, property values are negatively impacted when families experiencing vehicular homelessness are forced to park in random places on neighborhood streets. Cars to Housing helps alleviate this problem by providing client families with a safe designated parking space, while they receive rehousing case management services.

How can I help the Cars to Housing program succeed? You can support this innovative program by supporting the Interfaith Family Shelter. Financial donations are always appreciated! In-kind donations – i.e., clothing, non-perishable food, and household items – are also very useful. Click here for more information on how to help.