The Fair Towing Alliance insists that as Congress drafts additional COVID-19 relief legislation, that they reconsider current laws and practices on car towing that devastate poor families and force individuals into unsafe homeless shelters, all while the government and towing companies profit.
WASHINGTON, D.C. /Mortgage and Finance News/ — The Fair Towing Alliance insists that as Congress drafts additional COVID-19 relief legislation, that they reconsider current laws and practices on car towing that devastate poor families and force individuals into unsafe homeless shelters, all while the government and towing companies profit.
The COVID-19 response requires individuals to be sequestered in controlled spaces. However, current parking laws put families experiencing vehicular homelessness at risk. As reported in 2019 by CityLab, several religious organizations and nonprofits have begun creating “safe parking areas” for people living in their vehicles. These services are extremely rare and most poor families are subject not only to losing their car, but hefty fines and fees as well.
The recent report “Towed Into Debt: How Towing Practices in California Punish Poor People,” revealed that in California, the average cost to get back a towed car is $1,100 and in one month alone, Los Angeles towed 9,400 vehicles. In San Francisco, 50 percent of vehicles towed for unpaid parking tickets and 57 percent for lapsed registration were never recovered by their owners. Instead, these cars were sold at auctions. By continuing to enforce these laws, families and individuals will be forced into homeless shelters, increasing their risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.
“It is essential that government agencies not order the towing of people’s cars at a time when those actions may increase the risk of entire families contracting a deadly virus,” says William Wallish Gorman, the founder of the Fair Towing Alliance and former decorated police officer.
Gorman adds, “Private for-profit towing companies must cease towing vehicles for non-emergency and non-public safety reasons. Across the world businesses have taken honorable actions. We expect no less from for-profit towing companies that have long reaped the benefits of towing and selling the cars of poor families after they were unable to pay the exorbitant fees. Private towing companies should publicly commit to not sell these cars at auctions.”
In addition to increased threats from COVID-19, individuals who lose their car are at increased risk for prolonged poverty. Research from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville found that unemployed people with cars were more likely to find jobs and leave welfare than those who do not have cars. Those who have a car, after leaving welfare, are twice as likely to be employed for 18-24 months than individuals without a car.
Gorman further stated, “Many of the employees who have lost their jobs are the working poor who staff businesses that drive local economies. We want everyone to obey the law, have a job, work hard, be free of government assistance, and do right by their families. Fulfilling these responsibilities should not be constrained by excessive government actions and companies that prey upon poor families. Now is the time for our lawmakers to defend the poor from unjust business practices, poverty, and COVID-19.”
The Fair Towing Alliance raises awareness of laws and policies regarding the towing of cars and their disproportionate impact on the poor. Learn more at: https://www.TowJam.org.
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*Photo caption: William Wallish Gorman.
Fair Towing Alliance
William Gorman, Founder
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Learn More: https://www.TowJam.org
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