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Chico city leaders end shelter crisis, community reacts

A divided Chico City Council declared an end to the shelter crisis. Action News Now asked local leaders what led to this decision.

Posted: Apr 7, 2021 5:17 PM
Updated: Apr 7, 2021 6:25 PM

CHICO, Calif. - The Chico city council says the city is no longer in a shelter crisis.

During a discussion and ultimate rejection of the BMX shelter, council member Kami Denlay proposed a substitute motion, to stop working on the BMX shelter concept and to immediately rescind the shelter crisis declaration.

Denlay cited 2020 state statistics, saying statistically, there would be only about 98 homeless interested in a shelter.
Adding that with those numbers, the city would have enough beds.

Denlay said what the city is lacking is helpful resources for drug rehab and mental health.

She added she wants to focus money on other things that impact a bigger part of the community.
Her substitute motion passed 5-2.

"There's no need for an emergency sanctioned campground, in addition, there's no shelter crisis, based on there being more than enough shelter beds regularly," said Denlay.

But some people living in encampments in Chico say this is not the case.

One man who did not want to be identified said, "I've been to the shelter a couple of times myself and I know that's not true, the people out here take one shelter on its own."

"My reaction to ending the shelter crisis? Take a look around you, this is a shelter crisis," said Richard Munzer, who lives in Comanche Creek.

In a statement from Kami Denlay, as to why she filed the motion, Denlay says:

"1) Due to reports released end of March 2021 from The data itself if from reports from The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the California homeless per capita is 40.9/10,000
2) That leaves Chico at around 490something homeless individuals
3) According to data from local providers, an average of 1/10 homeless individuals are seeking shelter.
4) Enough beds is not one bed per homeless individual. Enough beds is one bed per individual seeking shelter.
5) With the numbers in the previous items, and if we round up to 2/10 seeking shelter just to have cushion and flexibility, only about 100 homeless individuals are actually seeking shelter. So 100 beds would be enough beds.
We have far more than that right now, which explains why we see continuous nightly averages of 50-60 open beds. 47 last night at Torres alone.

We do not have a “shelter crisis”. We have a drug addiction crisis and a mental health crisis.
The more we continue to spend resources on additional beds that no one is interested in accepting, the more resources are being sapped away from resources that could address the real crisis we are experiencing (addiction and mental health).

Again, my speech at council really explained that in a more articulate manner. So please spend 6 minutes watching that clip. If you use the city website you can click on the exact agenda item and see just that part of the meeting. I think the information I presented is really beneficial for people to hear and understand."

Chico city leaders say the declaration was set to end in June and they will continue working with the county on homelessness solutions.

Action News Now is working to find out if this decision could impact any state funding. 

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