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Shelter space in Chico limited as homeless encampments continue to be cleared out

As homeless encampments continue to be cleared out of local parks in Chico, Action News Now asked city officials what the plan is moving forward.

Posted: Jan 13, 2021 7:09 PM
Updated: Jan 14, 2021 10:57 AM

CHICO, Calif. - The homelessness issue continues to be a problem in Chico.

Tuesday, a law enforcement officer cleared out some homeless camps in lower Bidwell Park, but where will those people go now?

Action News Now asked city officials what the plan is moving forward. 

"There is no place for them to go. They are not telling them where to go. The people they are evicting are begging them to tell them where they can go and they refuse to," said Chico city councilor, Scott Huber. 

Councilmember Sean Morgan said, "That part is not my responsibility, they literally invaded the park. It's like some grand scheme happened and we changed now all of a sudden we are turning into these terrible people and we're forcing people out. But all we are doing is enforcing the rules we've always had. What about environmental concerns? How are we ever going to fix this? Do we have a plan moving forward? We are moving towards that. Our homeless solutions coordinator, Suzy, is doing a great job working with the county."

Homeless solutions coordinator, Suzy Kochems told Action News Now, "We are working on tent camping environment, we are working on a tiny house village and service providers on expanding their program capacity. She adds, " I understand The Torres Shelter is working on opening up some beds. Other than that, Project Roomkey has some unsheltered that are most vulnerable. Outside of that, we are not aware of any other open programs."

"We need solutions and are going to build towards solutions but every day that we allow people to camp in the parks, it gets worse and worse and the environmental hazard gets worse," added Morgan.

"No one wants campers out of the parks more than I do but it needs to be done appropriately and in a way that people who are living in the park now because of various circumstances beyond their control have a place to go to," added Huber.

The Torres Shelter says they are working on increasing their bed capacity but new guests will have to go through a two-week quarantine process.

Tuesday afternoon, Chico Police Chief Matt Madden provided Action News Now with this statement:

"I was happy with the voluntary compliance that we saw today in our efforts to clean up Bidwell Park. I attribute this success to the relationships that our Target Team has been able to build in our community I appreciated the help and support that we received from the City of Chico’s Public Works and Parks Department. Our Target Team showed patience and compassion, making sure that only unwanted garbage was removed from the park and allowing people to retain their property. We also offered to store any property for anyone that needed it. As we continue to enforce this law, we hope that we continue to see compliance. If people still refuse to leave after the 72 hours and have been given the opportunity to do so, we will enforce this law with citations. This law is a misdemeanor so physical arrest is also possible."

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