CHICO, Calif. - The city of Chico has declared a shelter crisis, which will make it eligible for $4.9 million allocated by Governor Jerry Brown to assist the homeless.
The crisis was declared at the city council meeting on Tuesday night, where council members approved the notion with a 4 to 3 vote.
There were more than 40 speakers at the meeting, most of which were in favor of declaring the crisis to use the money to
"$4.9 million is not an astronomical amount of money but it will help us come up with solutions," said Lisa Currier of Crisis Care Advocacy & Triage. "It will help kickstart a lot of things that we need to change in the community right now. It will help with services, it will help expand homes for the mentally ill, it will help simplicity village with the elders."
Others called it a Jerry Brown trap and said that accepting this money will only attract a larger homeless population.
"I guarantee you that the requirement to declare a shelter crisis before you can receive money is part of a strategic plan to roll out this $1.6 million to impose on local municipalities state policies with regard to trying to solve the homeless," said Rob Berry of Chico First. "Despite all of the money that's being spent, that number [of homeless] is not going down in Butte County."
Gridley and Oroville have already declared a shelter crisis and Paradise is considering it.
Action News Now reporter Laura Eng spent time in downtown Chico speaking to local businesses owners to get their reaction to the declaration and understand both sides of the issues.
"I feel very strongly that we shouldn't have declared a shelter crisis," said Teri Dubose, co-owner of Broadwa. "This is an issue for the safety of our community and the criminals, and the vagrant criminals that are coming to our town. I think this is an open invitation."
She also spoke with Councilmember Karl Ory, who expressed his reaction to the intent of the declaration.
"This is not going to somehow immediately make homeless folks disappear downtown," he said. "That's not the intent. "We're trying to figure out how to get 40 or 50 people off the streets into a shelter."
Dubose thinks that this is not enough to solve the problem.
She has lived in Chico for her entire life and originally planned to stay in Chico for the rest of her life, but after this declaration that may not be the case.
"Last night's decision was kind of a turning point for me," she said.