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Proposal in city of Janesville would allow homeless people to sleep in their cars at Palmer Park

Proposal in city of Janesville would allow homeless people to sleep in their cars at Palmer Park

JANESVILLE, Wis. - A proposal being brought to the city of Janesville would allow homeless people to sleep in their cars in Palmer Park.

Maggie Darr, Assistant to the city manager, said that about a year ago, the city began looking at ways to adress issues the homeless population was struggling with in Janesville.

Darr said the city then worked to create focus groups of some of the city's nonprofits that work with the homeless population, including ECHO, House of Mercy and the YWCA.

"They found there was an underlying issue with the services providers where people don’t have housing, but they do have a vehicle," Darr said. "Right now, our ordinance prevents people from parking overnight and sleeping in their vehicle on any sort of public property."

Yolanda Saffold of the YWCA has worked with the focus group, and said they found when people are kicked out of their cars, they struggle to find other places to go. 

"They’re being ushered out and told to leave," she said.  "They're floating around the city not knowing where to go."

Saffold said the decision to choose Palmer Park was done because of the park's proximity to the interstate and its access to bathrooms. 

"People still need access to running water to be able to complete hygiene tasks," she said. "They still need to be in a safe place where they can feel comfortable."

Darr said City Council will have a first reading of the proposal on May 13, and then open up for public comment on Tuesday, May 28 at 6 p.m.

"It's not an end all be all," Saffold said. "It's supposed to be something that's helpful."

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