As Winter Approaches, Chico Shelters For Homeless Lacking

Nov 17, 2020

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The onset of freezing nights and wet weather has once again heightened awareness of people sleeping on the street in Chico.

It’s a predictable problem but critics say the city is again unprepared to provide cold-weather shelter.

Deanna Schwab is the board president of Safe Space, a local volunteer organization that provides overnight accommodation for people without a roof over their heads. She says she’s not optimistic about this winter.

“All of the service providers are definitely 110 percent on the same page, it just seemed like the city council dragged their feet and they postponed,” Schwab said. “It was supposed to be on the agenda and it was postponed so many times, which just indicates to us that it really wasnt of high priority.

Schwab says her organization could convert an empty 5,000- to 10,000-square-foot heated building into a shelter within a month. But Safe Space has numerous hurdles to jump.

“Only sprinklered buildings are permitted for overnight shelter, that has not been an issue in the past,” she said. “We can open an emergency shelter probably within the next month, maybe sooner for 30-40 to maybe 60 guests, if we could find a building that was sprinklered.”

Schwab says despite the challenges, Safe Space will continue its efforts to bring people in from the cold.