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Chico City Council to Vote on Homelessness and Crime

Declaring a shelter crisis and bringing back the Street Crimes Unit are both before council tonight.

Posted: Oct 2, 2018 4:28 AM
Updated: Oct 2, 2018 9:37 AM

Chico, Calif. - Chico City Councilmembers have some big decisions ahead of them Tuesday. 

For one, they'll decide whether or not to declare a "shelter crisis."

If they do, the city will be eligible for a share of Governor Jerry Brown's $500 million in Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP).

If the city declares a shelter crisis, they won't be required to do any one thing - the law says the money can be used for providing services or for providing shelter.

Butte County and the Cities of Oroville and Gridley have already declared a shelter crisis.

So, if Chico jumped on board as well, the funds will also be distributed by the Butte Countywide Homeless Continuum of Care.

Even though Council hasn't made the final move yet, the Continuum of Care is actually already accepting projects that would get started with shelter crisis funds.

Also on the agenda tonight, city leaders may decide to make the Chico Police Department's Street Crimes Unit a permanent fixture.

The police chief will address the council to ask for a 4-person, full time unit after the success of the temporary summer initiative.

Now that college is back in session, the 7-person unit's been reassigned to the campus area, but Chief Mike O'Brien has a plan to bring the unit back, year-round.

It's going to cost $690,000 a year, but O'Brien says he can cover it by cutting from his overtime budget, and using about $350,000 a year from the trash-hauler franchise money.

Over the Summer, the unit made 282 arrests and reduced crimes like theft, robbery, loitering, vandalism, etc., by 37% compared to the year before.

The meeting is tonight at 6 p.m. at the City Council Chambers on 4th and Main Streets in downtown Chico.

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