The Butte County Democratic Party response to the City’s mishandling of the homeless issue, and the need for safe housing alternatives.

It has been said that incompetence is expensive, and we need look no further for an example than the recent actions of the Chico City Council.  Their misguided handling of the unhoused individuals in the City has been a disaster. 

Federal judge Morrison C. England, Jr., confirmed in open court in Sacramento on Friday what has long been clear to many in Chico: The conservative wing of the Chico City Council has breached its duties to Chico citizens by taking no action to make shelter available to people who need it, by promoting lies to defend that inaction, by passing ordinances so vague they cannot legally be enforced, and by using public funds to stage police actions that are popular because they are “anti-homeless,” but that are illegal. 

This is the same gang that wants to let the Shelter Emergency Declaration expire in June so that they can pretend they “solved” the shelter emergency.  Magical thinking won’t change homelessness in Chico – come June, we’ll still have hundreds of unhoused people even if the declaration expires.  Letting the declaration expire would make the City ineligible for state and federal grants that have yielded more than $850,000 over the last few years to address this issue, and would imperil the City’s chances of getting state and federal housing crisis funds in the future.  It makes no sense to stage another political stunt that will not address the problem and will leave the City without valuable outside resources to do so, possibly for many years to come. 

It is time for “leaders” to show leadership.  Lead by being honest with voters, telling them that it is a violation of the United States Constitution to criminalize having nowhere to go when adequate shelter is not available.  Lead by defending the constitutional rights of all, not just those of yourself and your political allies.  Lead by taking concrete steps to address the homelessness problem in Chico, a problem that everyone agrees must be addressed.

The City should, as soon as possible, designate a safe, sanctioned campground for unhoused people to stay until they can find affordable housing.  As the Enterprise-Record editorial board pointed out on Sunday, there are multiple possible locations.  The City should make the designation in consultation with the unhoused plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit, as directed by Judge England.  Getting the lawsuit settled quickly will avoid the expenditure of more taxpayer money on the fool’s errand of defending the legally indefensible. 

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