An urgent call for help

Safe Space needs someone to step up so that it can continue its winter shelter

We’re going cut to the chase on this one. Safe Space Winter Shelter is in dire need of a facility or two to round out its seasonal operation keeping homeless folks out the elements.

Our hope is that local churches or other organizations will answer the nonprofit’s urgent calls for help. As you’ll read in Newslines this week (see page 10), Safe Space intended to have opened a year-round facility by now. Last spring, it was in negotiations to lease a building near Chico State. But local NIMBYs helped tank that plan.

The result: Safe Space was forced to once again operate a seasonal facility. But by the time its leaders transitioned their energy to that plan, many of the houses of worship that typically open their doors to the down and out were booked. The organization has been searching for other host locations to no avail.

Surely not every inn around town is full. Some of them must have the capacity and leadership with the heart to open their halls to homeless folks. If ever there was a cause that closely resembles that which is called for in the good book, it’s caring for the needy. To wit, there are dozens upon dozens of biblical references to aiding the less fortunate. Take Proverbs 19:17 as an example: “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.”

We also want to note that there are plenty of other local facilities that could accommodate Safe Space in the short term. One that stands out in our minds is the aforementioned public university. Large, open facilities with restrooms? Check. Already paid for by the taxpayers? Check. Committed to helping underserved populations? Check. Open to productive town and gown relations? We’d hope.

Again, we’re talking about human beings here who otherwise would be on the streets in the middle of winter. This is a matter that requires immediate action. As the CN&R has learned, six people were found deceased on Chico’s streets last year. That doesn’t include the people who passed away at Enloe Medical Center after living unsheltered.

Naysayers will say that some homeless folks still will refuse to seek out Safe Space. While that may be correct, it’s also true that the shelter has been filled to capacity this season. Supporting a program that gives them a warm place to take respite is the right thing to do.