The Safe Legal Sleep Project began in March 2016 as weekly meetings at Open Door. The attendees were members of the local homeless community, some staff from CCJ, members of other agencies in town, and some caring allies of the project.
These meetings were called into place because of concern about the lack of legal places for the homeless to sleep in the city of Prescott. Everyone needs a place to sleep at night, but for many who are homeless, sleeping means attempting to find a place where one won't be ticketed for the night. Even when a ticket is evaded for the evening, being constantly on alert leads to many sleepless nights, and when a ticket does come, people with no home are often left with a fine they cannot pay and a criminal record.
The need in Prescott is great, and currently there are not enough shelters to accommodate all of the homeless population.
One legal option is for property owners to allow those who are homeless to sleep on their properties. Taking advantage of that option, CCJ decided to hold Safe Legal Sleep at the CCJ Thrift Store parking lot each night. Each person who attends receives a letter stating they have the owner's permission to sleep there. At the time of this writing, nearly 50 people are staying each night at Safe Legal Sleep. This not only demonstrates the need of safe, legal places to sleep in Prescott, but also that those who are homeless wish to not be ticketed and follow the law if they are able to.
The Safe Legal Sleep Project as it is now is not a permanent solution. Nightly, it prevents the homeless from being ticketed and helps with peace of mind, but there is much more that needs to be done. There is now a community who attend every night. They gather despite any foul weather, chatting and setting up tents to get some rest for the night. Kind folks have brought donations of cookies, water, raincoats, and more as we work toward a better solution.
See updates and stories about the Safe Legal Sleep Project on the
CCJ Facebook page