LOS ANGELES --Homeless people who receive parking tickets in Los Angeles will have an alternative way to pay fines after a resolution was passed by the city council on Tuesday.
The most recent numbers from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority suggest that about 7,000 people in the city live in vehicles, with many of them accumulating parking citations.
City officials also began enforcing new restrictions in February on where homeless people who live in their vehicles could park.
The city council unanimously approved a pilot program they said would help the homeless avoid hefty citations in exchange for community service.
"What the pilot program does is it allows people who are living in their vehicles and who have been ticketed for living in their vehicles to get out of that cycle of being locked into living in their vehicles and into poverty," Councilmember Mike Bonin said.
Those who qualify for the Community Parking Assistance Program, or CAPP, could serve between four and 24 hours of community service depending on the amount owed.
To be eligible for the program, the participant must be enrolled through Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. Though they don't have to be enrolled at the time of the citation, participants must enroll before applying for community service.
A maximum of 10 citations and up to $1,500 a year in fines will be allowed under the program. Anyone who paid a citation with a bounced check or has disputed credit charges will not qualify for CAPP.
Officials made it clear the program doesn't apply to moving violations or safety and public health violations.
On the same day CAPP was approved, Jeff Chang with Doris Cares handed out sack lunches prepared by elementary school students for anyone who was hungry.
Chang hoped to see measures that help an even larger segment of the homeless population.
"A lot of them have citations for jay walking, they have citations for littering," he said. "For the city council to pass this thing, it's wonderful, but again, how do you solve the homelessness issue especially when someone owes several thousands of dollars in fines."
The pilot program could be established in less than two weeks with the goal of expanding to low-income communities.