Action on the homeless front

Organization makes real progress on helping local unsheltered individuals

Over the past couple of years, we’ve listened to a lot of noise about local homeless citizens. We’ve seen them referred to as “the homeless” and heard many lifelong Chico residents called “transients.” We’ve seen them splashed across the front page of the local daily with demoralizing headlines and photos. More recently, we’ve seen Facebook pages dedicated to bashing them. In short, the community’s population of homeless individuals has been demonized and further marginalized.

That’s why it’s so refreshing to see the progress of the North Valley Housing Trust (NVHT) on the nonprofit’s plans to help provide real solutions to the issue of homelessness. The organization, through a grant and fundraising, has taken in over $1 million that will pay for the creation of affordable living spaces for homeless individuals or those who are in danger of losing their shelter.

Its plans also call for the incorporation of social support systems, such as counseling and job training, which are a vital component of helping people transition into housing and stay there (see Meredith J. Cooper’s report on page 10).

Wisely, NVHT believes in the “housing first” model, a concept that prioritizes moving those on the streets into stable homes. While that may sound like the right thing to do from a moral perspective, recent studies have shown that it’s also a financially prudent move. A report by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte found that it costs far less to house people ($14,000 per year through a program in that state) than for taxpayers to foot the bills associated with the medical and jail costs of a chronically ill homeless person ($39,458).

NVHT is now looking for partners to bring the vision of these supportive living spaces to life. We hope their search turns up creative proposals and that the public gets behind this worthy effort.