MPA Online Capstone Research Shows ‘Safe Parking’ Programs Can Help HomelessIn the search for shelter and privacy, some unhoused people turn to living in vehicles, lining the streets of cities. Many American cities impose harsh restrictions on these practices in order to appease nearby residents and businesses. In recent years, however, some cities have chosen to take a different approach. Rather than responding with restrictions, they have started designating certain parking lots “safe parking zones” for unhoused individuals.

Three USC Price Master of Public Administration online graduates – Laila Waheed, Lindsay McElwain, and Daniel Schiele – were given the Haynes Award for their capstone project researching the efficacy of safe parking zones. The trio was tasked with examining safe parking programs in order to make recommendations for their client, the Center for Homeless Inquiries. They met with policymakers and advocates to review budgets, parking lot locations and available services.

The team never lost sight of the real world implications of their research and the lasting impact it can have on people in their communities. “They’re human subjects, so we wanted to make sure all of our effort was the best that we could do,” said Schiele.

The trio hopes their final 105 page research report will be used as evidence that if implemented properly, safe parking programs are an effective tool to alleviate homelessness. The ability to hand their recommendations to a client and implement them highlights a central value of USC Price: thorough research can change policy and improve people’s lives

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