Building new lives

Esplanade House at 20; Its work is more important than ever

The news that homelessness in Butte County increased by 20 percent between January 2010 and January 2011 (see Sifter) is further evidence that the recession is hitting some people especially hard. That’s why organizations like the Torres Community Shelter and the Esplanade House are so important.

This week the Esplanade House celebrated its 20th anniversary as part of its graduation ceremony held Tuesday, May 17, at Our Divine Savior Catholic Church. This transitional living facility, founded via a remarkable partnership between Dr. Gary Incaudo, a Chico allergist, and Greg Webb, a housing developer, is a tremendous success story.

In 1999, realizing that the rundown 12-room former motel that originally housed the facility was far from adequate to meet the needs of people with profound problems, the duo led a huge board effort to build a larger shelter in the form of apartments. Overcoming fierce NIMBY resistance, they pushed the $4 million project through the city planning process.

The new facility includes 36 apartments for the housing program, a daycare center, and 24 sorely needed “graduate housing” apartments that are subsidized for graduate families.

Today the Esplanade House provides a comprehensive rehabilitation program designed to break the cycle of homelessness. Everything a family needs, from nutrition education and parenting and life-skills training to substance-abuse education and linkage to community resources, is provided. Over the years, hundreds of homeless families have created new lives for themselves because of the Esplanade House.

We congratulate Gary Incaudo, Greg Webb and all the folks at the Esplanade House for their 20 years of success in countering a grave problem in our community. Efforts like theirs are what make Chico such a great place to live.