U District Safe Lot


The U District Safe Lot is a program designed for people who are experiencing homelessness and using their vehicles as their primary residence. A safe lot provides them a safe and stable place to park their vehicles so they may remain compliant with local laws, have access to restroom facilities, and be able to regularly access social services. It also creates a welcoming space of belonging within the community for participants.

UHeights is proud to host the overnight U District Safe Lot, which will serve up to ten vehicles (no RVs). In spring 2020, we opened our parking lot to people living in their cars, providing them a safe place to park, along with access to hygiene services and case management.

To learn more about this program, ask questions, and get involved, we hosted a public online community forum on April 2nd 2020 with a panel consisting of representatives from the service provider, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, the sponsor organization, and University Temple United Methodist Church, Seattle. We are grateful for our partners and all the community support we have received.

If you missed the forum, please click here to view the recording. And, please feel free to contact us at safelotinfo@uheightscenter.org or 206-527-4278 ext. 801 if you have further questions. You can also get involved with this project or others at UHeights through our volunteer form. If you are interested in applying to be a part of the Safe Lot program, please contact Helen Gaines with the Urban League's Road2Housing at HGaines@urbanleague.org or 206-714-0727. You can also distribute this attached flyer.

Safe Lot Podcast

UHeights Impact and Leadership Associate, Jemiris Gonzalez and Jordan Iverson from Resolution to End Homelessness, recently produced a podcast series about Vehicle Residency featuring a few folks from the UHeights Safe Parking Program. You can listen to the episodes below:  

U District Safe Lot Frequently Asked Questions

Who pays for the Safe Lot?

The City of Seattle designated around ~$375,000 of its budget for vehicle homelessness to pay for some of the costs associated with running a successful safe lot program. These costs include case management, utilities, and supplies.

Who runs the Safe Lot?

The Safe Lot is managed through a partnership of three organizations. The University Temple Methodist Church (U Temple) leases the parking spaces and hosts regular activities for Safe Lot residents. Urban League does intake, case management, and is primarily responsible for the Safe Lot residents. UHeights provides the free parking spaces and activities for the Safe Lot residents.

When does the Safe Lot operate?

Safe Lot residents will be allowed to park in designated spaces at UHeights at 7 pm on week nights and they will need to leave by 7 am. On the weekends, Safe Lot residents will be able to use the lot all day as well, except for 9 am - 2 pm on Saturdays, when the U District Farmer’s Market is in full swing.

Who are the residents of the Safe Lot?

The Safe Lot is comprised of up to five parking spaces that potential residents must apply for through the Urban League. Because Safe Lot residents are unable to use the parking lot during weekdays, there is particular emphasis on individuals who are already employed or have other places to go during the day. There is also an effort to give priority to families, students, and elderly living in vehicles (CBS News did a powerful piece that followed two families in the Seattle area living out of their vehicles). RVs or other similar vehicles will not be permitted at the Safe Lot.

All incoming residents are given background checks and will not be admitted if deemed a potential threat to the UHeights community.

What services are provided to residents of the Safe Lot?

The Urban League will provide comprehensive case management to Safe Lot residents to ensure they are given every opportunity to find gainful employment, housing, medical services, or any of their other needs. UHeights and U Temple will provide regular activities in the UHeights building during evenings, such as potlucks, movies, or other activities.

The U District YMCA has also agreed to allow Safe Lot residents to use YMCA facilities for exercise, showers, etc. Many of other community members, including UHeights Resident Organizations, local businesses, and social service providers, have all offered to lend support as well.