Parks and the Unhoused

Panel Dialogue

Addressing the needs and impacts of the unhoused in our public parks is, unfortunately, an evergreen topic, but one whose magnitude has intensified in the pandemic era.

This panel will explore innovative strategies and community-driven solutions. Speakers will discuss resilience, design solutions, and community engagement in addressing homelessness within public spaces.


  • Recognize challenges and impacts of unhoused within public spaces, and explore innovative strategies and community-driven solutions to address them.
  • Identify the benefits of work training and wrap-around human services in addressing homelessness, and strategize how to pilot a work training program.
  • Recognize how local codes criminalize users of 'public' space, and understand how to incorporate this awareness into the design of more inclusive spaces for unhoused individuals and other users of public space.
  • Discuss successful strategic partnerships and the role of advocating with unhoused individuals, and learn how to build and maintain open spaces and trails for a variety of users, including unhoused individuals.
  • Discuss the interconnectedness between homelessness and urgent urban issues, like the climate crisis, and understand how designing with unhoused individuals benefits other users of public space.


Paul Pereira

Program Manager, Beautify San Jose

Vicente Harrison

Health, Safety, and Emergency Manager, City of Portland Parks and Recreation

Ruth Blaw

Human Services Manager, Bellevue Parks & Community Services Department

Jared Edgar McKnight

Senior Associate and Designer, WRT

Elizabeth Sewell

Trail Manager, City of San Jose