CHICO, Calif. -- Vice Mayor Alex Brown motioned to eliminate evictions of homeless encampments of under ten people to help slow the spread of COVID-19 during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.
That motion passed in a 4-3 vote.
“It brings us in compliance with the CDC guidelines on homeless encampments,” said Councilman Scott Huber. “If you force these people out of the spot that they are currently in they are going to go to other neighborhoods and if they are carrying the virus they will spread the virus as they go. That’s the concern and that’s why we did what we did last night.”
However, Councilman Sean Morgan believe it is unfair to businesses and the people of Chico
“We’re telling business owners, go home and shut your door, even if you're practicing in safe social distancing, and all the safe things, but on the other side we're telling the homeless encampments, ‘go ahead and do whatever you want,’ and that is a really bad message to send, especially when there are people who are losing their livelihoods,” said Morgan.
Morgan adds the city should have trusted its officers to make those decisions.
“When news gets out that, ‘hey, you can go to Chico and be in an encampment and as long as it's not more than 10 people, the police can't do anything about it, don't worry about the social distancing, as long as it's in a homeless encampment and it’s in our parks and waterways, hey we're okay,” said Morgan.
While many locals are afraid of unhealthy encampments in their area, Huber believes that the city will follow CDC guidelines and ensures proper facilities and materials for the homeless.
“We have done some of those things already,” said Huber. “We have provided additional restrooms, we’ve provided even more handwashing stations throughout the community for exactly these reasons.”
Officials will only be allowed to offer information and outreach to those encampments.
City leaders say if this change is not working out, they can call for an emergency meeting to make adjustments ahead of the next city council meeting which is a month out.