Homeless shelter closer to reality

The Chico City Council voted unanimously June 5 to purchase five acres of land in southeast Chico for the purpose of leasing that property to a proposed homeless shelter and a dirt bicycle park, each of which would be built with privately raised money.

The city has not had a permanent shelter for four years, and the burden of housing the homeless during winter months has fallen upon 18 churches that have operated a rotating shelter system. Now the Chico Community Shelter Partnership will operate the permanent, year-round facility.

The council vote did not come easy, as Councilmember Rick Keene repeatedly asked CCSP representative Andy Holcombe for some assurance that the shelter would not become a “flophouse” for drunks. Holcombe said anyone using the facility for anything more than emergency shelter would be engaged in case management with a social worker and violations would be dealt with through those channels.

It took a motion from Councilmember Coleen Jarvis that included the case management language before Keene relaxed enough to vote for the acquisition, even though there are a number of conditions already placed upon the shelter by the Planning Commission, which issued the use permit. When the council finally acted, those in the audience, many of whom have worked hard for the shelter, gave the council a resounding round of applause.