Enterprise-Record (Chico)

Putting ‘progress’ in its proper perspectiv­e

- — Patrick Newman, Chico

A “Highlights, lowlights…” editorial assures us, “progress made on the Chico homeless front in the last year — especially constructi­on and operation of the Pallet shelter — has been astounding.” But in the next paragraph, “lack of progress usually caused by legal wrangling is exasperati­ng.”

Let’s remember, “progress” — to the extent we’re talking about 173 Pallet shelters — is a direct result of litigation against the City of Chico. And, after 10 years of watching the city dodge its responsibi­lity to more creatively and justly address a wide array of homeless issues, it’s 100% fair to say: No lawsuit, no Pallets.

Now, instead of supporting Legal Services of Northern California —- those directly responsibl­e for initiating the “Pallet progress” the E-R claims to appreciate —- we have the voice of an impatient beneficiar­y, complainin­g because sweeps are not executed in rapid enough fashion. Sweeps that under the best scenario will force a contingent of people into Whac-A-Mole wandering.

Has it occurred to the editorial board that what you’re calling “wrangling” might be exactly the kind of advocacy you would desire were you party to a lawsuit where your fundamenta­l human and civil rights were on the line? With what population, other than the homeless, are we so quick to insist the terms of a contract be treated casually? No other population.

This is a David and Goliath contest between a few lawyers trying to serve the poor in a limited capacity, and a city with deep pockets and a very long and ugly history of hostility toward the unhoused class.

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