Chico-landia’s Homeless Problem

Posted by Post Scripts   @   7 March 2013 30 comments

by Jack

    At last Tuesday’s council meeting council heard from a citizens coalition called,  Clean and Safe.  They represent property and business owners in downtown Chico as well as representatives from  homeless shelters and other providers for indigents.  This includes the Jesus Center, one of Chico’s better known homeless shelters.

The coalition claimed Chico has a serious and growing problem with the homeless population.  They’re taking over the City Center Plaza and chasing away customers from downtown businesses.  They’re also taxing the resources of agencies that help the needy and nobody seems to have an answer what to do about it.

A few business owners and employees recounted their clashes with the homeless who frequently defecate on their property, aggressively panhandle and in general terms, chase away their customers.   They say the downtown is not safe and it looks dirty.   Business is suffering major economic downturn thanks to a large homeless population.

Members from the Jesus Center and local churches reported that Chico has gained a national reputation for being a great place for free food, shelter and other helpful things.   This revelation came when the homeless were interviewed at the shelters.   They frequently claim to have heard about Chico’s friendly abundance in their home states far from California. Some of these homeless travelers were from as  far away as Tennessee and North Carolina.    Chico, they reported, is now on the map of favorite places that provide great care for the homeless.  Seems our success at helping the homeless is also contributing to our economic woes.

People that give money to panhandlers are part of the problem.   Several area mental health professionals and shelter workers said that enabling panhandling makes their job much harder.  “When people give directly to a homeless person they’re allowing them to have one more day on the streets.  That’s one more day they will not be confronting the issues they need to deal with and one more day they will stay away from councelling.”   They said people who give money to panhandlers are hurting the very people they think they are trying to help.  These caring professionals noted there is plenty of food and shelter available for homeless, the money they panhandle is used mostly for illegal purposes or liquor and it leads to more complications for them.  If a person wants to give a helping hand there are plenty of ways to volunteer and make a real contribution.

There are actually websites and brochures for the homeless advising them in great detail how to get money and where they can everything they need for free… here’s an excerpt from one:  “Where to Get Free Medical Care - If you become hurt or seriously ill, you can visit an emergency room anywhere in the United States. By law, they are not allowed to deny anybody and must run the necessary tests and checks to make sure you’re not seriously sick or injured. They can’t hold you there for not paying either. So if you can’t pay on the day you visit one, they will bill you at whatever address you give them. If you don’t pay, then they can sue you (if they can find you that is, and if you own any assets which they can sue for, which I’m sure you wouldn’t if you’re homeless) or it will go into collections and a debt collection agency will try to contact you and get you to pay up. For non-emergency problems, many cities and counties have programs available for low income individuals to get health care. For example, I live in San Jose, California, and I was sick but was only making about $500 a month.  I looked up “low income health care” and “free health care clinics” on Google for my area, and after about 20 minutes of searching, I found a program that the city offers.  I went down there and they gave me a ct scan on my abdomen and did blood work and checked my urine. They then established that I had an ulcer with gastritis and gave me a prescription for antibiotics.”

Chico is currently looking at building about 200 units for the low income and homeless.

The current homeless population in Butte County is estimated at about 2-3000 any given month and most of them congregate around Chico.

Coincidentally this was reported in the ER today,  Homeless, poor in California can get free cellphones

SAN FRANCISCO — Impoverished Californians, including those who are homeless, soon will be able to get free cellphones and service thanks to the recent expansion of a statewide program.

Two wireless carriers are now offering free phones and monthly plans for 250 minutes and 250 text messages to all those who can prove that they make less than $14,702 a year, or are income eligible.

Before last week, the program only provided free landlines to the needy. But on Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission approved two companies’ proposals to offer free mobile service funded in part through the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline program, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

 

 

Filed in Uncategorized 30 comments

30 Comments

Comments
Mar 7, 2013
11:43 am
#1 Princess :

I am almost to the point where I avoid downtown altogether. If I can’t park right next to Tres Hombres, or the Farmer’s Market I don’t go. I hate chain stores, and really like to support local businesses because it is so nice to have places like Mountain Sports that has the product you want. But I am not willing to walk through a town that is looking like San Francisco. If I park in the parking structure and walk to Tres Hombres it is like walking in San Francisco minus the pigeons. The sidewalks are filthy and the campers in every doorway are intimidating. The park and city council building look like campgrounds at night.

We have got to clean up this down and get rid of this problem before we are all stuck shopping at Amazon and WalMart.

Mar 8, 2013
11:08 am
#2 Post Scripts :

Princess, the downtown business association couldn’t agree with you more! They are suffering needlessly.

Chico did a wonderful job in providing for the homeless. In fact, we’re so good that other places are sending us theirs! We’ve become a homeless magnet and we can thank our bleeding heart liberals had when they had to embark on this never ending crusade.

Build it and they will come…and did they ever. Create 20 beds, you attract 40, create 40 and you get 80… and none of our brilliant liberal council people ever saw it coming.

Mar 8, 2013
12:05 pm
#3 Toby :

They look like the same people who made up the occutards, where did the love go? LOL

Mar 8, 2013
3:04 pm
#4 J. Soden :

This is the same thing that happened in Phoenix and San Diego. Their downtowns were used as toilets and the businesses finally had enough and got their City Councils to move the “shelters” to the outskirts of the cities. They also cut some of the “services” in order to make it preferable that the “homeless” (a.k.a. bums) move elsewhere.
Moral of the story is: If you provide it free, they will come. And come. And come.

Maybe those city council folks will ask the homeless to live with them to get them off the streets, hm-m-m-m? Or pay for all the services out of their own pockets instead of the taxpayers!

Mar 8, 2013
5:24 pm
#5 Harold Ey :

Interesting article, what I am wondering about, after the business owners and assorted agencies spoke, What did Our City Councilors have to say, Was there any response at all? did they have suggestions, ideas or they even care. Sadly it has been a rule of thumb with Liberal councils to avoid dealing in a effectual manner with this issues such as these. However I am sure as soon as they resolve the plastic bag conundrum, and comprehend for the most part that the trash, urine smells and deification behind some buildings are not the doing of Chico’s general population. It might be at that point, the Mayor will agonize over this problem in the form of a good fashion Liberal dog and pony show to show they are concerned about the problem.

Mar 8, 2013
5:43 pm
#6 Post Scripts :

The City Council didn’t say anything. I was waiting for our councilwoman (Tami Ritter) with the nose ring to say something, she didn’t. She ran on the fact she was a mental health expert and knew how to solve the homeless problem. I think they will take the comments under submission and then try to offer something to the citizens later. But, how long has this problem been around anyway? I think it’s been a problem for at least 10 years, and still nobody has any ideas??? Now we have more delays… obviously the council is clueless. The cops offered nothing either, they’re hands are tied by the courts. No more vagrancy laws, no more ID laws, even urinating in public is legal under certain conditions.

Mar 8, 2013
9:39 pm
#7 Tina :

Hmmm…most cities have laws that require owners to clean up after their pets.

Perhaps a week or two spent personally cleaning up after the city vagrants would spark some fresh ideas for the city council.

It might even give them some renewed appreciation for plastic grocery bags and their many uses!

Seriously, the council should invite Rudy Giuliani to speak about cleaning out the bums and criminals. He had a sterling record when he was the mayor of New York:

The American Presidency Project:

GIULIANI CUT CRIME 56% AS MAYOR

Between 1993 To 2001, New York City Experienced A 66% Decline In Murders. (“1993 FBI Uniform Crime Report: 1993 Index Of Crime By Metropolitan Statistical Area” Federal Bureau Of Investigations; “2001 FBI Uniform Crime Report: 2001 Index Of Crime By Metropolitan Statistical Area,” Federal Bureau Of Investigations)

During The Same Time Period, There Was A 72% Decline In Shootings. (“Reengineering Municipal Services 1994-2001,” City Of New York Office Of Operations)

New York City Experienced A 56% Decline In The FBI Crime Index Between 1993 And 2001, Far Outpacing 16% Decline In National Crime Index. (“1993 FBI Uniform Crime Report,” Federal Bureau Of Investigations; “2001 FBI Uniform Crime Report,” Federal Bureau Of Investigations)

In Addition To The Decline In Murders, New York Saw A 45.7% Decline In Rapes, A 67.2% Decline In Robberies, A 39.6% Decline In Aggravated Assault, A 68.2% Decline In Burglary, A 43% Decline In Larceny, And A 73.3% Decline In Motor Vehicle Theft. (“1993 FBI Uniform Crime Report,” Federal Bureau Of Investigations; “2001 FBI Uniform Crime Report,” Federal Bureau Of Investigations) —

—”The Phenomenal Decline Under Mr. Giuliani Of Larger Crimes Such As Murder, Robbery And Rape Was Matched By A Reduction In Quality-Of-Life Offenses — Which In Turn Contributed To The Drop In Major Crime …” (Editorial, “Return Of The Squeegee?” New York Observer, 1/7/02)—

—Giuliani Cracked Down On Squeegee Men. “Rudy Giuliani adopted the broken-window approach to policing when he became mayor of New York City in 1994. Even though New York was besieged with gang violence, muggings and murder, Giuliani turned the city police’s attention to small, quality-of-life concerns, and with astonishing success. … When police cracked down on the infamous squeegee men who harassed commuters by city bridges, they sent the message that the laws – all of them – were to be taken seriously.” (Editorial, “Fixing Broken Windows,” The Daily News Of Los Angeles, 1/11/02)—

—Bloomberg “Took Pains To Say He Would Not Abandon” Giuliani’s Quality Of Life Crimes Reduction. “And Mr. Bloomberg, who will take office on Tuesday, took pains to say that he would not abandon what had been a hallmark of Mr. Giuliani’s tenure: curbing the kind of low-level lawbreaking, be it public urination or drinking, that Mr. Giuliani argued contributed to a general decline in the fabric of life in New York before he took office in 1994.” (Adam Nagourney, “Quality Of Life Is High Priority For Bloomberg,” The New York Times, 12/27/01)

Mar 8, 2013
10:41 pm
#8 Post Scripts :

Giuliani is da man! Chico should be investigating what big cities do to remove the homeless problem.

Mar 9, 2013
5:21 am
#9 Harold Ey :

“Perhaps a week or two spent personally cleaning up after the city vagrants would spark some fresh ideas for the city council.
It might even give them some renewed appreciation for plastic grocery bags and their many uses”

Great idea Tina, I think it should be part of their understanding and DOOTY to help clean up Chico

Mar 9, 2013
8:39 am
#10 Peggy :

Hey Jack and Tina, Good to see PS is up and running again.

This article reminded me of the years my son was a student at UC Berkeley. I don’t remember a single visit with him I wasn’t approached by a panhandler or didn’t experience the same problems Chico now has.

According to this article from 2007, Bezerkely’s city council took steps to solve the problem, but doesn’t state the results.

http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/29/local/me-homeless29

“Berkeley no longer haven for homeless:
City OKs a get-tough plan to control behavior on its streets.

BERKELEY — Even this college town, traditionally the defender of the downtrodden, protector of the left and arbiter of political correctness, has had enough — enough of the homeless.

After months of hand-wringing, the Berkeley City Council this week passed a law to hire monitors to patrol city streets and parks and report inappropriate behavior by the homeless and others to police and social service agencies.”

It looks like the homeless of Bezerkely have just moved up the road to become the homeless of Chico, which makes one ask if Chico’s City Council will take the same measures as Bezerkely’s did to restore their city for the good of it’s residents and business owners?

Mar 9, 2013
10:50 am
#11 Tina :

“The current homeless population in Butte County is estimated at about 2-3000 any given month and most of them congregate around Chico.”

This is a growing national problem. It’s one of the dingier pieces of the overall problem of societal decline and decay.

I read an article yesterday about the large number of younger able bodied males that don’t work and are choosing to live off girlfriends or apply for permanent disability (under dubious claims). This followed the reading of another article that cited a study about how boys are being treated as second class citizens in the classroom. A society that treats is males with such contempt and loathing cannot be surprised when so many turn out to be useless, dependent, and totally unprepared for manhood. It was reported yesterday that 80% of the kids that manage to graduate from new York high schools cannot read! What do you want to bet that a large percentage are males?

A society that stupidly elects a person of such incompetence (or deviousness) to high office in the midst of a financial crisis cannot expect a thriving economy to follow.

A society that cannot see real wasteful spending in its nations (or councils) budgets cannot be counted on to stop the excesses or elect those who can.

Do we imagine it will get better any time soon? I say, not without a great awakening amongst the people!

Mar 9, 2013
12:18 pm
#12 Peggy :

I should have known it was to good to be true. Bezerkley still hasn’t done anything about their homeless problem.

http://www.berkeleyside.com/2013/01/31/berkeley-council-moves-towards-consensus-plan-on-homelessness/

Berkeley moves towards a consensus homeless plan:

“After an acrimonious battle last year over Measure S, which sought to prohibit sitting on commercial sidewalks, Berkeley’s City Council pointed the way on Tuesday night to a more consensual approach to homelessness.

Councilman Jesse Arreguín’s Compassionate Sidewalks plan calls for a working group on homelessness to “conduct a series of focused workshops and discussions on a wide range of issues related to homelessness and to develop an action plan with policy, program, and funding recommendations around ending homelessness.”

Mar 9, 2013
9:32 pm
#13 Tina :

And not a peep about a heartless and cruel Obama whose economic policies shove people, and families, out into the streets to fend for themselves.

Mar 12, 2013
10:13 pm
#14 Libby :

You know, in 1980 nobody in Chico lived on the street. Wasn’t that the year that Reagan was elected President?

And I do remember Chico’s first official homeless person … a female … who hung out on Normal, Salem, south of the campus … close to the campus so the city cops couldn’t get her.

Ah, Reaganomics! … just in case anybody had forgotten.

Mar 12, 2013
10:14 pm
#15 Libby :

Rats! I forgot to say. 1986, the vintage of Chico’s first homeless lady.

Mar 12, 2013
10:35 pm
#16 Post Scripts :

Libs…thanks for giving me an opportunity to correct the record. From the mid-70s to mid-80s there was a strong ‘patients rights’ movement generated by the mental health advocate community. Although there were many facets to this movement, one of the primary elements was a re-examination of the criteria for institutionalizing patients.

The point of contention revolved around interpretations of what it meant for a patient to be able to ‘take care of himself.’ Prior to this the interpretation was rather strict; if a patient could not earn an income and provide shelter and food for himself (and if there were no family members able to care for him), then he would normally be institutionalized.

Begining in the late 70s, the advocacy groups began to demand a lower standard. As long as a patient could merely wash and dress himself, and could perform the mechanical tasks of shovelling food into his mouth, then every effort was made to force the institutions to release them. The Dems held a lot of hearings on this, but they were determined to release a majority of the inmates under new low standards they arrived at, not the psychiatric professionals and not Reagan.

Predictably, most of the newly discharged patients were unable to take care of themselves in any meaningful sense of the word, and became the homeless people on the street. It’s no coincidence that the decline in California’s mental health insitution population closely matched the sharp increase of homeless (in California, at least) during the same period. Advocacy groups made it illegal to force people into institutions if they were minimally able to care for themselves…a very low threshold.

Reagan was not involved in this movement, nor was he a symptom or symbolic of it. Quite the contrary. The people who ‘liberated’ the inmates tended to be on the opposite end of the political spectum. In fact, it was the ACLU who provided legal representation to force the VA to release these patients. Libby…it was the liberals that did it!!!!

Mar 13, 2013
10:14 am
#17 Tina :

Jack Libby knows this; we have had this conversation twice before. We posted links that informed of activists intentions…it was all very progressive…it was liberals who cared about fairness and compassion! They were acting on the latest science!

Back then the major media was limited to ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS/NPR…and print media driven by the NYT…all pretty much controlled by progressives.

The new science was accepted (consensus) as compelling and they got away with it because the adults of the time (WWII generation and above) expected scientists would operate with integrity. The empty headed hippie dippie activists didn’t care as long as the law came down on the side of fairness.

We’ve been going down hill fast in the science community ever since…hello global cooling…no, I mean…uhmmm…warming, dammit!

Progressives never pass up an opportunity to blame someone else for their mess…especially a popular, effective man like Reagan.

Mar 13, 2013
12:00 pm
#18 Post Scripts :

Tina, I know we’ve said it before, but I just had to say it again to refute the big lie. It gives me a chance to rub their liberal noses in it.

Mar 13, 2013
4:54 pm
#19 Tina :

Jack please know that it wasn’t meant as criticism but another reminder that it doesn’t seem to matter how many times we show the evidence. Also to show that the blame game is just that, a political game, and the criticisms/labels are often not founded in truth, facts or history.

Call it piling on…it needs to be done because they never quit trying to distort and fabricate.

And as for Reaganomics you might as well call them Kennedy-onomics, he did the same thing.

Readers interested in the positive result of pro business, pro-growth policies like lowering tax rates can check out Heritage, “The Historical Lesson of Lower Tax Rates” written in July of 1996.

Mar 13, 2013
4:57 pm
#20 Tina :

here too!

Mar 14, 2013
9:31 am
#21 Libby :

Yeah, Reagan’s got quite a record of signing legislation that wreaks havoc. Check this out:

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=36733

My translation: “Even though I disagree with all stuff the progs slipped into the leg, Big Pharma really wants to sell untried drugs to the unwary Brazilians, and I put corporate interests over everything, even my own conscience.”

Ick.

And there’s a big, fat difference between ending forced institutionalization without habeas corpus and the wholesale closing of institutions, refusing to fund community care, and the consequent turning of folk into the road. The legislation said one thing, it’s implementation did something else entirely.

And all you tax dodgers bear a lot more responsibility for that than I do. So there.

Mar 14, 2013
12:12 pm
#22 Post Scripts :

Libby, this is a far cry from allegations that Reagan closed up a whole bunch in hopitals for the mentally ill and forced the patients out into the cold.

Re drug exportation to other countries…”The provisions of this well-crafted legislation strike an appropriate balance between permitting drug exports to countries that have adequate processes for making their own approval decisions, while at the same time reserving to the Secretary of Health and Human Services sufficient authority to protect the public health in the United States.”

Big deal.

May 2, 2013
10:49 pm
#23 Jacob :

I found this article really interesting and I understand the difficult predicament of trying to balance help for the needy with the economic burden it may place on a community. What I really appreciated was the emphasis placed on the importance of getting homeless people connected with services, rather than just throwing money or shelters at them. The truth is that many homeless people are suffering from some sort of mental illness and/or substance abuse problem. Providing food and shelter for these individuals is a wonderful thing, but it is not enough. They need treatment for the extremely difficult stressors, and possibly disorders, that they are dealing with. The good news is that there are services available and the federal government is even passing initiatives for these purposes.
The issue I have with the way this article presents the topic, an I believe is evident by the types of comments being made, is that the blame is all placed on the homeless or else on the government for the economic burden. The truth is, helping the mentally ill and the homeless is a community effort. You could say that the economic issues are due to the panhandling, or you could say it is due to the stigma towards the mentally ill and the homeless that is driving people away from the businesses and perpetuating the plight of the homeless in our community. Our situation, and especially theirs, is not going to get better as long as people in the community continue to react in their ignorance. We need initiatives that educate those in Chico about what it is to be mentally ill, and what it is to be homeless. Unlike the commonly held belief, many of these people did not create this situation for themselves, but fell victim to the woes of mental illness and/or addiction. We can’t see these people as lepers to ne outcast on the outskirts of the city, but be moved by compassion for these human beings that suffer while we live safely at home. We need to continue to educate people about the services available to the homeless and helpful ways to contribute, like you said. And most of all, like I touched on earlier, I truly believe that there would be no real crisis, and businesses would be doing just fine if people weren’t driven to fear by the stigma placed on the homeless population. Panhandling isn’t taking over central plaza and driving people away, an ignorance and fear of the homeless and mentally ill is: the stigma is the source of our trouble.

May 2, 2013
11:58 pm
#24 Post Scripts :

Jacob, thanks for weighing in on this topic. Your opinion matters, especially on a subject so close to home where every voice counts. Because it will be the local people that will eventually determine the direction they wish to go with this. Either more support and expanding services, or redirecting the giving to the existing shelters, or perhaps cutting support if they see it is bringing in more trouble than we can safely manage. Nobody knows the direction yet, we’re just starting to deal with it.

I’m glad we can agree on many things here, but I must take exception to you characterization that we’re blaming all the homeless for all the problems. We’re not, well, make that, I’m sure not and I don’t know anyone else that is either. I tried to be very specific and lay the blame where it belongs. If this situation were presented in a pie chart, imagine only about 5% of that pie would be the people I consider to be causing the problems downtown, the rest are pretty much as you said…they have personal problems from mental to physical and most are not of their making. Nobody is targeting them! I’ve yet to meet one person who said they have a problem helping those with serious personal issues as you have so correctly noted. I just wanted to make that very clear and I thought I did in the article, but I guess not clear enough.

I hope you will read the update posted today 5-2-2013.

Dec 30, 2013
11:39 am
#25 markm8128 :

I am working on a page devoted to documenting all of the brutal
homeless camp clearings that are taking place in California:

California Homelessness Reporter
http://www.california-homelessness-reporter.org/sample-page/homelessness-camp-evictions/

Please let me know if you hear of any others!

Feb 21, 2014
6:40 pm
#26 Conscience !!!!!!!! :

All of you people kinda make me sick..I wonder if you are even human.. Anyone can become “indigent” as it was so ellequently stated. And if any one of you people ever find yourself in this predicament I would laugh and laugh and ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ah…learn some compassion for your fellow man!!! Oh I’m sorry they don’t teach us that in school anymore do they?

Feb 21, 2014
7:46 pm
#27 Tina :

Conscience they obviously don’t teach good manners and respect for other people or public and private property much anymore either.

I can’t speak for everyone but I can speak for myself. I donate money every year to help the local shelters care for those who find themselves in “this predicament”. I’m pretty sure there are others who also do what they can.

The objection isn’t to the people or the condition in which they find themselves but to the careless regard many of them have for the communities in which they travel and settle. Urinating, defecating, spitting and vomiting in the doorways of businesses is a good way to wear out whatever welcome mat people might extend. Not all homeless people are just down on their luck…some have chosen to be panhandlers. Some are extremely aggressive. Others have been downright violent. Many of these people also refuse to seek help. and are unwilling to accept offers of food or work

Some of the people around town get to be the grown ups and try to solve the harder questions. the problems don’t have easy answers. If that offends you I’d say you need to grow up an take some civic responsibility, at least with regard to your attitude. Maybe you could adopt a wider perspective. Have some compassion for those business owners and their customers who are also being impacted by this problem. How about you show some empathy for them. Then, if you are “in this predicament” get yourself some help and do what you can to help others.

Feb 21, 2014
8:00 pm
#28 Tina :

Libby you know darn well it was Academics, healthcare and psychiatric people who wanted those mentally ill patients to be let out of the hospitals. They were the ones that pushed politicians for this to be done…it began in California under Edmond G Brown.

May 11, 2014
3:45 pm
#29 Pie Guevara :

Downtown Chico is dead to me. The liberals on the city council killed it.

May 11, 2014
3:51 pm
#30 Pie Guevara :

Re #28 Tina : “Libby you know darn well it was Academics, healthcare and psychiatric people who wanted those mentally ill patients to be let out of the hospitals. They were the ones that pushed politicians for this to be done…it began in California under Edmond G Brown.”

On this, Tina, we must agree to disagree. Libby is an ignoramus who doesn’t know jack $%^&.

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