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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Cautious optimism for BMX shelter site from Chico’s key players

CHICO – The City of Chico plans to open 177 pallet boxes at the Silver Dollar BMX Race Track on Martin Luther King Boulevard to meet the needs of the homeless.

On Monday, the city announced and published a request for proposals for the site, which has been identified as a 24-hour center for the provision of integrated and emergency housing.

As of Monday, the city has provided $ 600,000, and on Tuesday the Butte County Board of Supervisors allocated an additional $ 1.7 million in federal funding to the project.

Various community members and key contributors to the Chico homelessness debate have voiced their reactions to the publication of the request for proposals, sharing both hopes and concerns about the project and how it might be implemented as the plan takes shape.

A locked gateway at the Silver Dollar Way in Chico, California, at the entrance to the Silver Dollar BMX Race Track, warns offenders Wednesday, October 13, 2021. (Jake Hutchison / Enterprise-Record)

Laura Cutsona, executive director of the Jesus Center, said she looks forward to the project and joint efforts to make it happen.

“I think it’s encouraging that the city and county are working together to create this opportunity, both in terms of funding and her imagination,” said Cootsona. “This cannot be overemphasized. This is not what we have received from them so far. “

The RFP is still an early document for the project, which means there are still a number of meetings, discussions and planning ahead. Cootsona said that due to the nature of the project, this will be a fresh start.

“I think this is also really an opportunity for providers to really come together, contribute collectively and create something new,” said Cootsona. “I really want to participate in this conversation and see how it ends.”

The road to the hideout was rocky and winding. Since June, a lawsuit has been under way against the city in the form of Warren v Chico, alleging that the city, by preventing the homeless from staying in parks without providing shelters, is violating Martin v. Boise’s rules.

Angela McLaughlin of Stand Up For Chico expressed her disappointment with the creation of the hideout.

“In April, the City Council voted to order city personnel to stop working on the BMX track as a potential location and voted against renewing the Declaration of the Housing Crisis,” McLaughlin said. “It’s a shame that a federal judge forced the council to do the right thing. I would rather say “thank you” for doing everything right the first time, not “I already said” now, but here we are. “

McLaughlin added that she is still optimistic, albeit cautious, about the project.

“The use of pallet shelters in particular is a big positive,” McLaughlin said. “It gives people a small space with a lockable door to store their property and the ability to control the temperature inside. It also gives them a little privacy, which has been a major obstacle for people in regards to traditional meetinghouses. ”

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However, not everyone shared this optimism.

Teri DuBosé, head of the Citizens for a Safe Chico group, said she was unhappy with the overall process.

“It is incredibly disappointing that the safety of our community is being held hostage by a small handful of errant defenders of the homeless who are using a broken legal system to block the will of voters,” Duboz said. “The new city council wants to enforce our laws and create a safe Chico. They did so until the lawsuit was filed. “

Due to the litigation, the city itself has several options in this matter and must agree with the directive.

“Unfortunately, it looks like the only way to get back to complying with our laws is requiring the city to build new shelter beds that are likely to remain unused,” Duboz said of the proposed shelter site. “I am reluctant to support these efforts if they resolve the lawsuit, restore Chico’s quality of life, and make our parks and public spaces safe.”

One Chico’s Nicole Nava was also unhappy with the outcome of the asylum planning.

Nava said that although the city’s mayor Andrew Coolidge and the city council lied about it.

“What happened to the fact that this is a temporary site?” Nava said. “What happened to the fact that he was not in area 7? What happened to the truth? What’s wrong with transparency so that citizens have a say in how and where our taxpayer money is spent? “

Nava said she would support a plan for a vacation spot on the outskirts of the city, but disagreed with the existing plan. She added that she believes there are some issues in the RFP that she disagrees with.

“There are big holes in the RFP,” Nava said. “For security purposes, it is imperative that experienced security personnel provide it 24/7. Regarding the responsibilities of the district, it notes that they “can” provide various key services, not that they “will” do it the way they should – and it talks about renewals, annual operating costs next year, and t. D. “

November 17 is the deadline for submitting proposals. City officials said they hope to receive a recommendation by December 3.

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