Chico Community Shelter Partnership
With money in the bank and plans on the drawing board for a new homeless shelter, it’s no wonder that Tami Ritter, executive director of the Chico Community Shelter Partnership, describes this past year as one of “so much change, so much progress.”
Starting this Sunday, the Chico Community Shelter Partnership (CCSP) will once again operate its “rotating” shelter in a series of churches and other facilities. But this, the fourth year of the program, appears to be its last.
CCSP hopes to break ground in December or January on its new permanent facility located on Silver Dollar Way, with construction to be completed by next spring.
This development was made possible in part by a $500,000 loan from the Emergency Housing Assistance Program that is “forgivable” after the organization builds and operates the shelter for 10 years. A federal emergency shelter grant of $282,127 will help cover operating expenses for the next two years.
The grants were awarded in part because of the comprehensive services that CCSP already offers, including public health, behavioral health, case management and veterans’ services. The partnership is working with the Chico Police Department to contact the homeless and let them know these services are available.
Ritter is also grateful for the local support the partnership has received and says momentum is building for the organization.
“The amount of work that people are putting in, the amount of energy to get this going, to get the ground broken and the pads poured before the winter, is just remarkable,” she said.
Although Ritter likens the rotating shelter program to a “well-oiled machine” after its success of the last few years, she’s quick to point out that the organization still has needs. Specifically, it is still looking for a location to house the homeless for a two-week period beginning November 18.
With winter approaching, Ritter is also in search of items for the comfort and safety of the homeless. She’s after mattresses and blankets, plus warm winter clothes, including hats and gloves, rainwear, umbrellas and shoes.
The Chico Community Shelter Partnership welcomes volunteers and “works with their skills.” Ritter is looking for someone to work on or submit articles to its newsletter, as well as a person who might be able to design a new logo for the organization. The partnership’s Candlelight Vigil in honor of those who have died or been victimized while living on the streets has become an annual event, and Ritter said volunteers to plan or participate in this winter’s vigil are needed as well.
When all else fails, there’s always money. The Chico Community Shelter Partnership will soon launch a capital campaign to raise the funds needed to build the permanent homeless shelter.
An “Empty Bowls” fund-raiser on Nov. 20, organized by students involved in Chico High School’s Leadership through Service class, will benefit the CCSP. Students will craft, glaze and fire clay bowls for the event’s soup and bread dinner. People attending the dinner can keep their bowls as a reminder.
Folks who want to stay in touch with the latest news from the partnership can call and asked to be put on the organization’s mailing list. In turn, Ritter welcomes feedback from the public.
“If people have ideas or concerns, we’re so accessible. We want to hear people’s ideas if they have things that they’d like to see happening, or if they have programs that they’d like to be involved with. I want to meet with people. I want to see how we can make this even more of a community project," she concluded.