Oroville Mercury-Register

No one is safe on the street

- — Elizabeth Wheeler, Chico

There are growing concerns among community members regarding the growing homeless population in our city. Unfortunat­ely, there are not enough affordable options available to serve those in need. The Section 8 waitlist and most subsidized housing options have a waitlist between 1-3 yrs. However, homelessne­ss is not only the result of the current housing shortage. Many of the individual­s who are homeless are suffering from mental illness or addiction.

Chico’s beautiful parks, creeks, paths and downtown plaza no longer feel safe due to an influx of homeless campers occupying these spaces. It is alarming to find hypodermic needles carelessly left on the ground in Bidwell Park. It is no longer safe to exercise on the trails alone without carrying pepper spray. Homelessne­ss is one of the many consequenc­es of untreated mental illness and substance abuse. Unfortunat­ely, Butte County lacks adequate mental health and addiction services. The increase in the number of homeless camps has become a safety concern to the residents of Chico. At least we who have homes have a safe place to sleep at night. Those who are unhoused do not have the luxury of safety. There have been numerous tragic deaths of homeless individual­s living in the camps within the past few months. Chico needs more inpatient treatment facilities and transition­al housing options for the homeless. Chico also needs services to support individual­s at risk of becoming homeless to stop this cycle.

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