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Safe Overnight Parking in Monterey for Women Who Are Homeless

The Community Emergency Response Volunteers (CERV) of the Monterey Peninsula helps facilitate grants for those in need in our Monterey community. CERV has been supporting the One Starfish program for years to help those less fortunate among us. 

From One Starfish:

Orphan Productions runs the Starfish Safe Parking Program for homeless women and families who live in their vehicles in Monterey County, California. As a part of CERV’s county-wide emergency readiness project for the most vulnerable people in the region, Starfish Safe Parking has created a series of five videos of special relevance to the population it serves, on wildfires, floods, earthquakes, vehicle fires, and carbon monoxide.

Each video is accompanied by supplemental materials that enhance its long-term value: an audio-only version, a PDF version with slides from the video, a brief checklist of takeaways from the video, and a quiz. Providing a package of materials on each topic increases the variety of ways in which these valuable ideas can reach their intended audience. Making them specific to people who are homeless increases the relevance and value of these materials to an often-neglected group of people in current emergency preparation efforts. You can check these useful videos out here: https://www.onestarfishsafeparking.org/emergency-preparedness/

One Starfish provides safe overnight parking for homeless women

The goal of the One Starfish program is to help guests find:

  1. Housing
  2. A source of increased income
  3. Access to health care

In the years of our program, the vast majority of our homeless guests have been women (sometimes with children) ranging in age from 20-85.  Circumstances that led to their homelessness include divorce, death of spouse or family member, loss of a job, spousal abuse, foreclosure or simply sky rocketing rent. 

Foreclosure Homeless Monterey CA

Potential aid to guests:

At the discretion of the One Starfish Staff and Board Members, the following assistance may be provided:

  • Financial support to ensure vehicles are brought to legal standards
  • Repairs for vehicles
  • Gas cards
  • Overnight stay in local motels
  • Dental Work
  • Cell phone
  • Move-in expenses
  • Help in relocation to more affordable geographical areas with a safety net of family and/or friends

About One Starfish

 One Starfish provides safe overnight parking for homeless women

When Dr. Tia Fechter and her husband, Michael first moved to Monterey County January 1, 2012, they began feeding and helping the homeless as private citizens. Simply because they saw the need.

In serving meals and bringing supplies to those in need, they soon discovered an almost invisible population of homeless people….homeless women living in their cars. These women generally went to great lengths to appear “not homeless” but lived in great stress and uncertainty as it was and is often illegal to sleep in your car at night.

Police, often reluctantly, had to tell these ladies to move on or be ticketed.  If unable to pay the fines these women soon found their cars impounded and they suddenly had no shelter at night. Many of these women were recently homeless with no skills to survive on the street.

After attending many city council, mayoral and other meetings throughout Monterey County…Tia, a PhD in psychometrics, decided to finance the beginnings of One Starfish Safe Parking and Supportive Services from her own pocket.

Getting the program up and running soon led to support from several groups prominently, We Help Homeless Women (Sara Myers) and The Fund for Homeless Women (Pastor Michael Reid, Kathy Whilden, and Marian Penn) that also saw the pressing need to see more aide come to those forced to live in their last remaining major possession…their cars.

Homeless and living in cars

One Starfish continues to operate with the kindness of compassionate people. People that realize that one or two bad breaks can quickly escalate and put a person in peril. Thank you for supporting this work. In doing so, you support many.

The unsheltered homeless in Monterey County have nowhere to go

Monterey County houses at least 2,422 homeless people according to the 2019 annual Point-In Time Count. Officials in Salinas are taking steps to protect the homeless amid the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID is spread through coughing, sneezing and can easily spread throughout homeless populations where people live together and health is poor or nonexistent. In California, there are over 150,000 homeless people, the largest number segment in America. Advocates say the current level of help is not enough to make the situation better.

Homeless in Monterey California

We're here for our community

Despite this time of uncertainty the Community Emergency Response Volunteers of the Monterey Peninsula are still providing assistance to populations throughout Monterey, California.


Monterey County offers safe emergency shelters for women and children who have suffered domestic violence. When women flee domestic abuse, they are often forced to leave their homes, with nowhere else to turn. Landlords also sometimes turn victims of domestic violence out of their homes because of the violence against them. For years, advocates have known that domestic violence is a primary cause of homelessness for women and families. Studies from across the country confirm the connection between domestic violence and homelessness and suggest ways to end the cycle in which violence against women leads to life on the streets.

Trapped Between Violence and Homelessness

One Starfish Provides Safe Parking

Housing instability and a lack of safe and affordable housing options heightens the risks for women experiencing domestic violence:

A lack of alternative housing often leads women to stay in or return to violent relationships. In Minnesota in 2003, for instance, 46 percent of homeless women reported that they had previously stayed in abusive relationships because they had nowhere to go. In 2003, in Fargo, North Dakota, 44 percent of homeless women reported that they stayed in an abusive relationship at some point in the past two years because they did not have other housing options.

Protecting Battered Women’s Homes

One way to reduce the risk of homelessness for domestic violence victims is to protect them from housing discrimination on the basis of domestic violence. For this reason, the American Bar Association has urged lawmakers to prohibit this form of discrimination. As the report accompanying the ABA’s recommendation explained, “Until we stop asking women to choose between being beaten and being able to feed and shelter their children, we cannot expect to rid our society of domestic violence.

They're panicked.

One Starfish provides safe overnight parking for homeless women

Linda Chavez lived in Chinatown for several years. She tells the story of homeless people and how they feel frightened. During the mandate on shelter for displaced people, Salinas looks at ways to make it easier to ensure many unsheltered people have a roof over their heads. $150 million has been provided for the state of California to purchase and lease travel trailers and hotel spaces for an emergency housing operation. According to Salinas City Manager: "Half of Californians will be impacted in the next 8 weeks," Governor Gavin Newsom said.

Response to All, Second to None Every Time

Homelessness is an extremely complex social problem with impacts on the quality of life within the Monterey community and others throughout the country. The sources of the homelessness are many and often outside of government control. The most important needs are water, food, shelter and clothing. One Starfish is there to help with many of these needs.


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