Make it an annual affair

Given the success of Project Homeless Connect, local stakeholders should hold it each year

Last week, Project Homeless Connect helped 675 local homeless people with everything from procuring state ID cards and job info to accessing critical care such as birth control and other health services. That number represents approximately half of Butte County’s known homeless population.

In other words, our region, like others around the country struggling with issues related to poverty, is dealing with widespread homelessness. Indeed, it is arguably the community’s No. 1 challenge and has been for several years. That’s why we were so pleased to see the collaboration among so many service providers, public agencies and citizens who volunteered their time to aid individuals in need. Finally, we’re seeing a substantive effort to address the issue. Kudos to the Butte Countywide Homeless Continuum of Care and the Housing Authority for making it happen.

One of the things we like most about Project Homeless Connect is that it is a compassionate endeavor (see Ken Smith’s report on page 9). We’ve grown tired of the heartless reactions we’ve seen in recent years, especially the policies adopted by the Chico City Council that essentially criminalize homelessness. For starters, they do nothing to get to the roots of the problem. Additionally, it’s shameful to live in a place that goes out of its way to make life harder for people who struggle each day to eat and find a safe place to rest.

Project Homeless Connect signals progress. From our perspective, it’s an effort that ought to happen annually—or perhaps more often than that. The last time it took place was four years ago. We hope this year’s success triggers a commitment among the various stakeholders to make this a recurring event.