Praiseworthy progress

Giving credit where credit is due on a couple of efforts to mitigate homelessness

After years of hand-wringing about the local homeless community, the city of Chico is taking real steps to address some of the root issues associated with that population, thanks to collaboration between the municipality, the county and several nonprofit organizations.

This includes a partnership between the county Department of Behavioral Health and the Chico Police Department that will result in a team of mental health professionals assisting officers during responses to those with psychiatric issues. That partnership, which very well could be a life-saving effort, was one of several initiatives that moved forward Tuesday evening during the City Council’s regular meeting (see “Hitting streets, building roofs,” page 9).

Another step in the right direction is a plan of the Community Housing Improvement Program and Housing Authority of Butte County to construct an 80-unit affordable housing complex on city-owned land—a move that was approved unanimously by the council. Such housing is scarce in Chico, a city in which a quarter of the population is classified as impoverished, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

At the same meeting, the city entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Jesus Center on its proposed move out of the downtown sphere to city-owned property near the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds. It’s an effort that would include an expansion of services, but because the proposal has been vetted largely behind the scenes at City Hall, we need more info.

Still, credit where credit is due. For years, we’ve been asking for the city to put up or shut up when it comes to addressing homelessness. That the former is happening stands to benefit us all.