It's no secret that Chico, like many cities is dealing with a homelessness problem. This is a multi-faceted issue that involves everything from mental health, to the local economy and unemployment, to substance abuse. The 2017 Homeless Point In Time Census & Survey Report estimates that around 0.88% of Butte County residents do not have a home. That's close to 2,000 people. The transient population in Chico is being hotly debated in the city council right now and views on how to help solve this problem vary greatly. Regardless of where you fall on the issue, it can be surprising to find that transients are regularly hanging out near your Chico apartment. So what do you do?
Notify Your Apartment Manager
The first thing you should do is notify your apartment manager. They are going to want to know about anything strange going on in and around the complex. They will likely have dealt with this problem before and can take the appropriate steps to resolve the problem.
Call the Police Non-Emergency Number
If your property manager is not dealing with the issue or if you feel the need is more urgent you can dial 530-897-4912. This phone number is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's a non-emergency police number. They will likely send a patrol car by within a couple hours.
In an Emergency Call 911
If you think there is a situation that constitutes an emergency in which your safety or the safety of others is at immediate risk CALL 911! Be prepared to give them details about the situation and location. First and foremost make sure you remove yourself from the situation and any danger you might be in.
In a Chico Enterprise Record article last June, Chico Police Chief Mike O’Brien said, “We want to be compassionate and help those who want to receive help, but we also have to be compassionate to those who have been affected by the criminal element,” he said. “That’s not saying by any stretch of the imagination that the majority of our homeless folks are criminals. But that has to be recognized and those people have to be held accountable. ... Sometimes that piece of the conversation is forgotten.”
Refer Them to Resources
Remember, that although it may be disconcerting to discover homeless people hanging out near your Chico apartment, they are not necessarily dangerous. Treat them like people. If you show someone a small amount of respect it goes a long way. If you are in communication with these folks, make sure they know about local housing and food resources such as:
In all we do, we strive to inspire people to reach their full spiritual, physical, emotional and vocational wellness. Serving nearly 300 meals a day and providing housing to nearly 60, we offer hope and a path to transforming lives.
Torres is a comprehensive program where men, women and families gain stability, income and housing. Our case managers help each adult address barriers like substance abuse, chronic health conditions and mental illness so they can recover their lives.
Use Compassion AND Caution
It's important to remember that people can work their way out of homelessness with the right help and support. The Community Action Agency of Butte County runs Esplanade House, a housing community and program to get homeless families back on their feet. Police Chief Mike O’Brien's statement is a fair view of the issue. We have to approach the homeless situation with compassion, but also caution. There is a criminal element within that population as well as people struggling with mental illness who may be unstable. You don't want to put yourself in harm's way, but in dealing with transients it's also important not to take away their human dignity. As Chico and the rest of the nation wrestles with the solution to the growing homeless problem we will all be confronted with this situation at some point. It's important to have a plan and know your options.
While it's important to be compassionate, it's also important to be cautious. Making sure that your Chico apartment is covered in case of theft is key. Read all about Renter's Insurance and find out a way to get covered.