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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Homeless people show interest for emergency non-congregate shelter site

The emergency non-congregate shelter facility in Chico is expected to open within two months.

Homeless people in Chico are looking forward to trying the new micro-shelters, manufactured by Pallet, which address concerns of security and necessities.

Magan Miranda and Lue Muldrew

Miranda and Muldrew are a homeless couple who live at Windchime Park. They signed up for the wait-list to live at the shelter site.

“For the most part, I’m really glad that they’re going through the trouble of making that available for people who don’t have housing,” Muldrew said.

Miranda and Muldrew currently take turns at their camp watching their belongings so they don’t get robbed while the other is out working.

“I’m here all day long just to make sure something doesn’t get stolen while my girlfriend goes to work,” Muldrew said. “We collect all this — what people see as junk — we don’t collect it just to be making a mess. It’s the lasts of what we have left.”

Muldrew said he used to work at the Jesus Center and one day after work, he came back to a ransacked camp.

“When I came back everything was gone. My wallet, everything that I own; my diploma, my resume, all these things were in my camp and they all got taken. And now I have to start all back over.” Muldrew said. “And the thing about it is it’s been multiple times. So I’m always starting over.”

The shelters at the emergency non-congregate site are required to have locks, which the couple view as a positive, and may alleviate the need to stay at their camp and watch their belongings.

Homeless People Show Interest For Emergency Non-Congregate Shelter Site
A drone shot of the new micro shelters off of Martin Luther King Drive, looking east toward paradise. The micro shelters hope to house up to 177 homeless people as part of an agreement the city of Chico made. (Matt Bates/Enterprise-Record)

“People need somewhere to keep their things locked up,” Miranda said. “It’s hard to leave your things because people steal them.”

According to Warren v. Chico settlement document, occupants may reasonably store possessions in the micro-shelter as long as they do not destroy or attach to the structure itself.

Andie Mendez

Mendez lives at Comanche Creek Greenway and expressed interest in the laundry services and showers at the shelter site.

“I think just having the showers available would actually encourage cleanliness,” Mendez said. “Because a lot of the times when you run out of the soap & water dispenser you feel… you know.”

Mendez is a woman and person of color and said she experienced racial conflict at a local congregate shelter and decided to leave. Mendez said she is interested in trying the new shelters which are non-congregate.

The shelters at the shelter site are to be organized in separate sections or “pods” to facilitate the feeling of smaller communities within the housing site, according to the settlement document. For example, a pod could be organized to be women-only or limited to different demographics.

Chris Bradshaw

Bradshaw lives in Comanche Creek Greenway and said he is interested in visiting the new shelters.

“They’ve got to be more protective against the elements than a tent,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw said having access to clean water, toilets and electricity which are provided at the new site are really important for homeless people and any human.

“Whether you’re in a house or not, you’re going to need some humanly things. A human body needs to go to the bathroom, needs to drink, and it needs to eat,” Bradshaw said. “And it likes to be entertained so you’re gonna need some power.”

The hospitality tent at the shelter site will serve one meal a day and give access to a kitchen area featuring hot water and a microwave to prepare food. Smaller food items like pastry and coffee will also be handed out throughout the day.

“That takes care of one of the elements, you know. You gotta feed and water humans at least once a day,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw has pet dogs with him and would want to bring them to the shelter. The shelter site will allow a reasonable amount of pets that will be able to go to a pet run area, according to the settlement.

“A lot of shelters do not take dogs. If it’s a pallet home — those dogs are like my kids. I would have them in my home,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw said the shelter will be an opportunity for people who can’t couch-surf with someone they know.

“Having family and roots and stuff like that in the area is really a good thing to have,” Bradshaw said. “But if you come from somewhere else and you try to establish yourself here, you need things to fall back on like somebody’s couch to sleep on if you don’t make it into the shelter that night.”

Bradshaw has concerns about safety and said he sees the potential for violence between different populations of homeless people and for drug handling within the facility.

“They’re going to have to establish some kind of security or law system with their new little housing,” Bradshaw said. “Because if not, they’re going to have all kinds of problems.”

The emergency non-congregate shelter is designated as a low-barrier shelter. While there are no requirements for sobriety to stay at the site, the use of illegal substances at the facility is prohibited.

Bradshaw has been homeless for three years since being evicted in Oroville shortly after the Oroville Dam crisis in 2017. Bradshaw said he would definitely be checking out the new shelters.

“As long as they’re supervising and making sure no terrible shit happens.”

World Nation News Desk
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