An Ashland church's offer of three parking spaces for homeless people living in their vehicles won't solve the dilemma of homelessness or make a dent in the housing shortage. It may not even last long. But it's a start.
The Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on Fourth Street has set aside three parking spaces on its property for people living in their vehicles. The spaces come with the privilege of coming into the church building in the morning for coffee and cookies and using the bathroom there to wash up.
Ashland's ban on "camping" includes sleeping in a car, but because the spaces are on private property and the church permits it, people can take advantage of it without fear of being cited and required to pay a $100 fine.
The church is the first to offer the service, and organizers hope others will follow suit.
The concept has its limitations. Not all homeless people have vehicles; those who do may not be able to keep them running, posing a risk that inoperable vehicles could be abandoned on church property. But the church spaces do provide an option for women or couples with children, because no shelter exists for them in Ashland.
Neighbors could object, although church members have discussed the plan with neighbors and with the congregation. And with only three spaces available, just a handful of people can be served.
Still, even the smallest gestures make a difference. Bravo to the Unitarians for doing what they can.