A number of cities are taking steps to help the homeless find a place to safely leave possessions, one of the many challenges they face each day, reports USA Today. St. Petersburg, Fla., New York, San Francisco and Chicago are among the cities offering free storage space to the homeless. This month, Portland, Ore., became the latest city to begin offering free cubicles where up to 50 homeless individuals can store a shopping cart and other possessions. Portland contributed $30,000 and the Portland Business Alliance contributed $8,000 to the center, designed as a temporary solution until a new Resource Access Center opens next summer.
The goal is to give people a place to keep belongings safe from theft and bad weather while they go to appointments or job interviews, as well as to keep piles of belongings from blocking the streets, officials say. The need for storage space is dire among the homeless population, but in most places, if shelters offer storage at all, the units are too small to do much good, says Tulin Ozdeger, civil rights program director for the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. City-sponsored programs remain rare, she says. Many homeless individuals end up paying for storage and spending thousands of dollars that could have gone toward a home, advocates say. If they cannot afford storage, it is very likely their identification and important belongings will be lost, forcing them to start from scratch.