The First Congregational Church of Palo Alto plans to continue its “safe-parking” program despite complaints from residents about safety.

The church first reserved four parking spaces to be occupied by unhoused people in July, in partnership with Move Mountain View, a non profit religious organization.

Reverend Dr. Eileen Altman, a pastor at the First Congregational Church, shares why her church decided to partner with Move Mountain View.


“The goal is to help move these folks into a more safer and better permanent housing situation. In the meantime … having a safe and predictable place to park every night with access to a bathroom is good for them and it’s also good for the community.”

— Dr. Eileen Altman, reverend


“Part of it is realizing the need and then wanting to do something to meet that need,” Altman said. “Once the city passed the ordinance that enabled churches and other kinds of faith communities to open their parking lots, we almost immediately wanted to be a part of that program.”

Altman said when the church first informed nearby residents of their plan to open the safe parking spots, most residents were in support of the program, but some neighbors were vehemently opposed to it. 

“One is safety concerns, sort of fear that the people who would be parking in our parking lot would somehow pose a danger to them,” Altman said. “And then the other kinds of concerns that folks had were related to proximity to their home.” 

However, Altman said people have to apply to be able to park in the allocated spots, which helps filter out any potential safety problems. 

“The goal is to help move these folks into a more safer and better permanent housing situation,” Altman said. “In the meantime … having a safe and predictable place to park every night with access to a bathroom is good for them and it’s also good for the community.”