Program that lets Summit County workers sleep in their vehicles secures new location, but a 24/7 parking lot is still needed
Unlike the marina space, which was available 24/7 throughout the winter, the town-owned lot at 602 Galena St. will only be available for Unsheltered in Summit guests overnight
After a successful winter at the Frisco Marina Trailhead, a program that provides a safe space for local workers living out of their vans or vehicles will be allowed to move to a new space in Frisco.
The Frisco Town Council on Tuesday, May 9, approved Unsheltered in Summit’s request to use the parking lot at the town-owned 602 Galena St. property for their safe parking program. But Unsheltered in Summit is still seeking a 24/7 space, according to Diane Luellen, the chair of the nonprofit.
“Everyone knows our situation in Summit County,” Luellen said. “Housing is both expensive and unavailable. Even though these folks are working and may be able to afford some kind of low-income housing, it just isn’t there.”
The program ran smoothly through the winter with about 33 people consistently using the available spaces, Luellen told the Frisco Town Council last month. However, unlike the marina space, which was available 24/7 throughout the winter, the town-owned lot at 602 Galena St. will only be available for Unsheltered in Summit guests between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. daily since the building hosts the Colorado Workforce Center offices.
Luellen noted that because of the time restraints, some individuals involved with the program who work nights might not be able to use the space. Unsheltered in Summit also expects to have eight spaces at the County Commons in Frisco and about 14 spaces at the Summit County Justice Center in Breckenridge, but these areas will have the same time restraints as the 602 Galena St. lot, she said.
“There are not a lot of people who need 24 hours, but there are a few,” Luellen said. “There are people who work nights or late hours, people who are servers or musicians or stock shelves who need to get their rest in the daytime. That is why we would appreciate a 24-hour lot.”
The safe parking program began in 2019 to provide a designated, secure location in parking lots for members of the local workforce to have a safe place to sleep in their vehicles. Those hoping to use the program must provide proof of employment and complete an application process that includes a questionnaire, an interview, a waiver of responsibility and a community respect agreement, Luellen said.
For $45 a month, Unsheltered in Summit provides access to portable bathrooms, bear-safe trash containers and a safe place to park, Luellen said. The program is also able to connect those living in their vehicles with community resources, such as the Family & Intercultural Resource Center.
For the past few months, Lisa Pema has been living out of her van through the safe parking program. After living the “van life” on and off for the past five years, Pema said the safe parking program gives her peace of mind, which has allowed her to spend more time planning for the future.
“It’s a safe place to park, and I didn’t even realize until I started in the program how much angst I had about moving around and being safe and being legal,” Pema said. “I was able to exhale and spend more time looking at my future plans.”
With individuals living in vans or vehicles throughout various parts of Summit County due to the high cost of living, Pema said she believes the community should work together to help the safe parking program — and safe parking in general — expand.
So far, town and county governments in the area have done a good job of helping to provide spaces for workers to live out of their vehicles, she said, while suggesting that perhaps local businesses and other private entities could also help provide space.
“I think it’s a much-needed service in our community,” Pema said. “I would like to see more light brought to the program so we can grow it.”
Unsheltered in Summit can be reached by contacting email@example.com.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.
Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.