CAPSLO to Manage Kansas Homeless Lot

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

January 28, 2022

The County has turned over management of its Kansas Avenue safe parking lot for the homeless to a non-profit organization that runs two other such facilities in San Luis Obispo.

County Supervisors approved a $163,000 contract with Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO), a SLO-based non-profit that runs homeless services for the County and City of SLO. Those homeless facilities and programs include the 40 Prado Road shelters, plus a safe parking program in the Prado Road facility’s parking lot, and another safe lot at the Railroad Station in SLO.

The Prado Road parking program provides six spots; there are 22 at Rail Road Square; and the Kansas lot adds another 52 to CAP-SLO’s oversight.

“Adding the Kansas Avenue Safe Parking site to their Safe Parking program portfolio,” A County report said, “will enhance their safe parking program with the goal of providing homeless individuals a safe place to park their vehicle while working towards their goal of ending their experience of homelessness and gaining economic sufficiency.”

As part of its contract for Kansas, which is a 24/7 facility located off Hwy 1 at the intersection of Oklahoma and Kansas Avenues, across from the County Honor Farm, CAPSLO will also provide on-site case management services, the County report said, “that include assistance with facility service contracts and on-site case management services. Facility services include bathroom, showers, trash and an office to meet with participants [or a shaded bench].”

The money comes out of the “Emergency Solutions Grant Program,” and is designed to aid those who are homeless or about to become homeless.

“Eligible uses of ESG funding,” the report said, “includes outreach to homeless persons, emergency shelter services, homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing, data collection through the Homeless Management Information System [HMIS], and general administration of the ESG program.”

CAPSLO has until next Sept. 30 to use up all the funds, according to the County. If the contract proves successful, “then county staff will seek to find sustainable funds to continue this program into the future.”

The County set up the “Kansas Avenue Safe Parking” lot as it’s formally known, last summer when the issue arose of people essentially camping in RVs and vehicles on city streets — in particular on Palisades Avenue in Los Osos. 

Originally allowed as a concession to help cope with the coronavirus pandemic, what used to be a handful of tent campers and RVs on Palisades grew into a mass of humanity that was becoming a blight on the community and piquing the ire of residents. 

A sizable number of residents demanded the homeless encampments be sent packing and the County came up with the Kansas Avenue site as somewhere these people could stay and not be bothered. 

The lot isn’t ideal, as it is far from convenient. For example, the nearest grocery and convenience stores are on Foothill Boulevard in SLO, about 6 miles away. Driving ones RV off the safe lot to go into town could mean losing your spot, if a person doesn’t also have a car.

There is however, an RTA bus stop located on Kansas Avenue by Hwy 1. There, for a relatively small price, they can catch a bus to anywhere in the county on the RTA system. They must however call RTA and request that a bus stop there, as Kansas Avenue is a “whistle-stop” for RTA.

Also, the County recently approved buying new and much improved portable shower facilities for the Kansas lot. Which, while not exactly a definitive commitment, would seem a step in the direction of making Kansas a permanent program site.

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