A Possible Homeless Day Center in Redding Draws Mixed Reactions at Community Forum

  

Photo by Sam Allen.

REDDING, Calif. - Should a day center be established in Redding? And if so, what role, if any, should the city play in it?

Those were the central questions posed to the community Monday during a special meeting of the Redding City Council. Councilwoman Missy McArthur had asked for the forum after a proposed sit-lie ordinance was shelved last month.

Mayor Rick Bosetti set the ground rules early: The council was interested in hearing from the community, but everybody should keep in mind that the city lacks the cash to be a significant player in any day center.

Downtown business owner Sam Allen

Such a center would be awesome, according to downtown business owner Sam Allen, but it can’t simply function as a handout. “There needs to be some accountability,” she said. Allen said her Yuba Street boutique, CAROUSEL, is at “ground zero” as far as a daily gathering spot for the homeless and others looking for a shady spot to hang out, get drunk, deal drugs, fight, relieve themselves and generally be a nuisance.

“I’ve seen it all,” Allen said of her two months at the store. Her account of brazen drug dealing, binge drinking, fights and medical emergencies was chronicled in A News Café in July.

“I hope we can come together with solutions,” Allen added. Asked by McArthur if she thought the homeless who assemble around her shop would go to a day center, Allen said the younger ones would “maybe” go but “the older ones are so far gone they don’t know where they are.”

“Can this go on? Is it legal? Can the homeless do this to our city? Drug deals going down on our sidewalks? C’mon! This is ridiculous.” Those were the questions and observations from John Mattera, who said he’s been a Redding resident since 1975. He expressed support for the creation of a committee to look into the day center idea, as long as the group had representatives “from both sides.”

“I am not unsympathetic; however I feel that most of them are in those positions by the choices they made,” Mattera said, adding that he would rather see tax dollars going toward more police officers.

The Rev. Ann Corrin called for “a shift of consciousness”  in dealing with Redding’s homeless problem. “It’s incumbent on us to stretch our minds and imaginations.” Too often, the Pilgrim Church minister said, “we create an industry of those who take care of the poor.”

A consortium of stakeholders, including the business community and citizens, can move toward solutions that reach beyond the issues of homelessness. “But it has to be a broad coalition and not a fiefdom…we don’t need another entity cutting into the pie, we need to create a new pie.”

As the CEO of Living Hope Compassion Ministry, which includes a day center in the Parkview neighborhood, Michael Mojarro cautioned the council that such a center is a huge undertaking and even more intimidating without adequate resources.

Jessica Delaney, coordinator of the city and Shasta County Homeless Continuum of Care Council, encouraged the council and audience members to get involved with the organization. “We’re missing a community voice. We don’t see them coming to the table. Come talk to the experts,” Delaney urged. The council meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 3 p.m. in the Caldwell Conference Room at City Hall. “I’m excited we’re having this conversation,” she added.

Following the speakers, McArthur noted the worthwhile ideas presented and said she’d support the formation of a subcommittee to explore the ins and outs of a day center and have it report back to the council “to see if or how we want to get involved.”

Councilman Patrick Jones said he did not support a homeless day center and likened some of the current programs to people who stock a cabin with provisions, only to have bears break in and steal food. “We must stop feeding the bears…there are programs that mean well but have adverse consequences.

“We can have compassion but we need to be tougher. We can’t be a Mecca for the homeless,” Jones said.

Councilman Gary Cadd admitted the answer to Redding’s homeless situation eludes him, but he said conversations like Monday’s forum are a step in the right direction. He also reiterated his concern that the city “doesn’t have much money to put in to this—most will have to come from the community.”

Bosetti said he’d be happy to facilitate a meeting of interested parties to further address the issue. “Let’s take pieces that are working and build on it,” said Bosetti, a former Major League baseball player who concluded the meeting by mentioning Reggie Jackson, the famed New York Yankees slugger who once boasted he was “the straw that stirred the drink.”

“Just like Reggie. We need straws to stir the drink,” Bosetti said.

Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.

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43 Responses »

  1. How about this? A center that will only open each day when a specific section of the city is thoroughly clean, changing daily? For instance, Library Park, sections of Calaboose Creek, city streets, etc.

  2. It strikes me, that in the comment Mattera made about people living in the result of the choices they've made is all well and good . . but what we're talking about here is other people (like Sam Allen) having to live with the choices of those folks too. That this conversation is even going on in any kind of a formal way, speaks well of our community.

  3. The momentum is growing, and everyone is coming to the conclusion that the LAST think this community needs is more services and agencies to serve the homeless.

    Enough is enough!

    I am proud of our city leadership that has come out against funding this. They are excellent leaders who recognize we do too much already, and homelessness is not a city issue.

    All a homeless "day shelter" will do is provide places for homeless people do sit and watch television. I would suspect they would also talk about where to get freebies and drugs.

    Several community members who spoke up and said the laws against camping and other laws need to be enforced! Kudos for them!

    It is time to take back Redding!

    It is time to rise up!

    Homelessness is a choice made by bad decisions.

    Handouts don't help, and we can see the momentum against handouts is growing!

    • "Homelessness is a choice made by bad decisions?" What, like lack of affordable housing? Poverty? Unemployment? Mental illness?

      OK, so I left substance abuse out of the list of primary causes cited by experts, and there's no denying that some—and I stress some—of the local homeless are on the streets for that reason. But even then, they've got a disease—addiction—and deserve compassion and assistance, not judgment and disdain.

      For the rest, they can't merely be swept under the carpet, and ignoring them and how they got there obviously doesn't help. This is a societal problem, and in an area with such low per capita and a very weak job market, there is no magic wand that will make it go away. And you're painting with an awfully broad brush when you stereotype everyone living on the streets as the sorts who'd "talk about where to get freebies and drugs." Tell that to the young family with children who I sometimes see hovering in the corners of Safeway's parking lot.

      I'm as frustrated with the situation as anyone. But we can't just talk tough about "taking back" the city—especially when the city itself doesn't have the means to be much help...

      • Housing is very affordable here in Redding and Shasta County. Apartment rentals, shared housing and even rental houses are much, much less than they are in places like San Fran and LA.

        Poverty - that's a choice people make by not getting an education and gaining job skills for an ever changing workforce market.

        Unemployment. It's really not that hard. If you truly can't find a job then relocate to a place that offers the kind of employment that match your skills.

        Druggies - drug "abuse" is a choice. There are substance abuse programs out there. No sympathy or handouts should be given for substance abusers. None.

        Young families with children. It's not that hard to get a job to support your family. Simply not tough. Get two or three jobs if you need to.

        • Drug abuse is a temporary choice (i.e. mistake) - drug addiction is by it's very name, no longer a choice.

          No human is an island. These people need our sympathy, empathy and our love so that they can believe in themselves despite those of us that like what they are so we have something to beat on.

        • Good grief. I'll admit that my wife and I are in the upper reaches of household incomes locally, and I'm more than thankful for that. But I grew up quite poor, at times just barely staying off the street as my mother did exactly what you describe—sought education, worked multiple jobs, etc. I'm glad I have a more compassion and empathy, apparently, than you do for people who are down on their luck—and a willingness to give them the benefit of the doubt about how they ended up where they are...

      • That's just the typical attitude of those that are worse off than the worse case scenarios they describe.

        Dark and lonely it is when one is filled with so much hate - they must thirst for empathy.

        They need a handout exactly like the homeless need.

        A handout of unconditional love and support.

        Anyone that ignores their own mortality so much as to turn their back's on suffering people are truly in need of a handout.

        They need to know what love is before it is too late for them.

        It is up to us to give the homeless our love as well as those that hate the homeless.

    • As I posted below...Redding does little for the homeless when compared to like sized cities. Chico has two "day shelters" and has less homeless and less problems. I fear that folks like Jones are merely trying to garner votes...by having people think they are tough on the homeless problem. The city needs a comprehensive program using both private and public resources(I think Chico used Prop 63 funds for their shelters...I am not sure what Shasta County did with theirs..)..It is morally right and it's good for business as well.

    • As someone who came from being homeless to where I am now I totally disagree with you. When I lived in L.A we had day shelters. These were not places for people to "do sit and watch television". We actually had no television at any of the day shelters I was at. Those were places where people could go to eat, talk to a couselor, go to groups, the members were even encouraged to run there own groups. The staff was there to help people find housing or find work. Yes some of the people I was were habitually homeless. They prefered living on the street and not working, but then they are people like me who took advantage of help I was offered. A friend of mine got me a job at a non profit organization. I worked my way up from an aide to a site supervisor and help that job till I moved here in 2011. The day program found me housing. It wasn't the greatest and it was far away from the program, but I took it. Again I stayed there till I moved up here. And before you start throwing out judgement like "Homelessness is a choice made by bad decisions." I did not make a choice to be homeless. I lost my job and unfortunately I fell into a deep depression. Ok you may want to say that I "chose" to become depressed but I didn't. It's things that happen in life, not always choices people make in life. You my friend have a very ignorant view of the homeless. Maybe you should try talking to someone who is homeless before you start throwing out comments like you did.

  4. "Homelessness is a choice made by bad decisions."--

    Equating homelessness with "making bad decisions" ignores the reality that fully 1/4 of the homeless population is mentally ill. I do not think they chose to be that way. Another 1/4 of the homeless are children; they did not choose their situation either.

    Yet, even regarding those who find themselves homeless because of a bad decision of some sort, one can only wonder what kind of a person wishes to deny help to everyone who makes a bad decision. Have we really sunk so low that we are unwilling to help the most desperate among us?

    • Amen, Bob. I'd like to think that we've not reached the point that we're willing to help one another—especially in an era where the responsibility for doing so is being pushed back on the private sector. But sometimes, especially after reading something like this, I wonder...

      • Oops, shame on me for not proofreading. Of course I meant "I'd like to think that we've not reached the point that we're UNwilling to help one another."

      • I am sorry to break it to you, but we reached that point long, long ago - read Steinbeck and you will see how it was in my area and the way people that lost everything were suddenly treated.

        We are a strange, yet predictable animal.

        The only way that I have found to truly change people's hearts is to bring them into the open and show the world how evil their heart is.

        Suddenly the community improves by their newfound moments of "clarity".

    • That's just it. They always think these people have choices, when every time they try to make them they are unwelcome in what they have chosen.

      Then the tickets pile up and the license becomes out of reach as does the job and the hope.

      Their dreams. Where are their dreams?

      They can only come up if we help them up. Without us, they will forever be lost. And that is a big shame on us.

  5. Opps! That should have been last THING this community needs.

    I just get so worked up when I think about how much we provide to our "homeless" population that I don't proof.

    Sure wish we could edit comments on here.

  6. Do you really think the homeless will hang out at a structured day center in Redding? Now if you let them get their own place together and police it themselves that might be another matter. However, because of insurance costs that is not going to happen. We have a problem with no good answer.

    • Very well stated, except that the answer is to transport them other places.

      One "homeless advocate" wrote on another comment board how wonderful Chico was.

      If it's so great, then let's charter a bus to take the homeless there.

      If people truly cared, they would focus on getting immediate help which includes transporting to other places.

      • "Transport them other places?" Are you for real, or just a troll? Never mind, I think I know the answer, sadly.

        I thought I supported this "Handouts Don't Help" campaign, because liberal and compassionate as I may be, I was becoming convinced in that regard. Thanks for changing my mind 180 degrees.

        Handouts may not help, but neither do denial, hatred, nor delusion. I hope I never end up homeless and on the receiving end of your "solutions."

        Congratulations. You've managed in the space of just a few hours to convince me that yes, we DO need government programs to help those less fortunate than ourselves, because the private sector can't be depended upon or trusted...

  7. Patrick Jones quote...

    "Councilman Patrick Jones said he did not support a homeless day center and likened some of the current programs to people who stock a cabin with provisions, only to have bears break in and steal food. “We must stop feeding the bears…there are programs that mean well but have adverse consequences."

    EXCELLENT and ACCURATE observation most honorable Councilman Jones!

    This saying is right on!

    You are one of the folks who make us proud to live in a place we simply call Redding.

    • Comments like that don't make me proud. They make me ashamed to be associated with the city and its leadership. So please don't use the term "us," since some of us, at least, feel differently...

      • I completely agree. Anything Patrick Jones says should be disregarded because he's in the pocket of a very small but scary group of people.

  8. Interesting editorial in today's Redding Searchlight: "Homeless aren't 'bears' to be starved out".

    Personally, I'm pleased that Redding has in recent years attracted more competition for Jones Fort so that I'm not forced to do business with the parochial and sophomoric Patrick Jones and his redneck employees who pushed their political views on me whenever I went in to make a purchase. Jones is so far to the right that even conservatives like me often think he's a hindrance to sensible, conservative government.

  9. Chico is dealing with the same homeless problem as Redding.

    • How on "Earth" could that "be?"

      I have "heard" from another "poster" that "Chico" has just "wonderful" and endless "services" for the "homeless."

      There are thousands of "apartments" and "day" shelter "programs" in Chico.

      Certainly, you "can't" be "serious!"

  10. Every spiritual program/path talks about feeding the hungry and helping the poor--that includes Christianity. Helping others also teaches us compassion. As long as we stay in the "me, me, me" mind frame, we stay self centered. When we open our hearts, we grow. We are all part of the web of life--every being.

  11. Perhaps one issue on which we could all agree would be that the homeless and/or transients would be far less unwelcome if they simply cleaned up after themselves.

  12. I live at one of the motels in Downtown Redding, so I know most of the homeless you people are talking about. This is what I've come up with. 70% of the homeless are mentally ill. some you can talk to some you can't. Some are old and some are young. The City in its wisdom has closed the mental health place. These people haven't the ability to care for them selves. So its jail or wander the streets. Someone said that "we" do to much for them already. You have know idea what you are talking about. The only thing "we" are doing Is trying to get them out of our city, yes their are those that don't deserve are help. And their are those that need are help. We must help all in need weather they deserve it or not. The homeless kids have it worst of all. Without help from us they will just continue being the same as their parents. Their lives are vary hard. And vary dangerous. And the police's do nowthing policy isn't working. There has to be a way to help at least the people that are trying to better their lives an come out of the gutter. The city needs to quit giving the Drunks monthly money to get drunk on. And they need to quit making it hard on the bisness owners in the area. That isn't going to fix the homeless problem.

    • Larry,

      I think Redding does less for the homeless than other cities of similar size. I think this is why we are experiencing so many problems....It is bad for business and ethically wrong.

  13. The truth of the matter is that cities like Chico do a much better job with two homeless centers. They have less homeless and less problems. I think they used prop 63 funds for this....Our county received these funds too and obviously used them in another way or just put them in the general fund. I think our elected representatives are failing us in this matter.

  14. This unfortunately is a way of life for to many. This is the way they choose to live, a day center won't change this. I believe that many wont even try it out as there will be rules and laws to regulate it's usage.

    • All a "day center" would do is provide a place for people to sit and watch television. That's the only benefit.

      We already have more than enough services. In spite of what some people think, the fact is we have more than any other city of our size in California and the West Coast.

      Opening a "day center" would just throw more money at a problem. We already throw enough money at homeless people already, and it's not working.

      It's time to enforce the existing laws.

      Mr. Jones was 100% correct in his comments.

  15. Just read that a homeless person was responsible for holding up a Subway sandwich shop at knifepoint in Redding Saturday.

    Another crime committed by these people!!

    And they want to build day centers for these?

    Get real!

  16. I believe we should utilize the organizations that we have in place to bring in the homeless. If the homeless don't want to come in, then they we need to move them out. We don't want to encourage more chronic homeless to move to our area because of our "free lunch" programs.

    We live in a very generous, compassionate, giving society here in the North State. Those who can and want to support local non profits and supportive organizations, SHOULD.

    Giving to organizations that actually help our homeless with transitional housing, substance abuse recovery, mental health issues, etc..... is where we should be investing our donated dollars.

    We should make it illegal for the homeless to panhandle, sleep in our parks, and use our public resources as their personal bathrooms, bedrooms, and living rooms!

    Instead of giving the homeless money and/or food. We need to give them a taxi ride to one of the shelters in our community. If they do not want help at one of our shelters, then how about a bus ride out of the North State?

    Seriously, as a community, I think a lot of us, if not most of us, want to help a person when they are down. But we do not want to help them camp in our back yards, beg us for money, and pollute our fine parks and open spaces.... (check our Doni Greenburgs blog and documentary on this topic at AnNewsCafe.com)

    Good News Rescue Mission, (GNRM.org) People of Progress and many, MANY, more non profits are already on this mission and now are in need our support!

    When you come across a panhandler (as we do on a daily basis!) - "do not feed the bears" so to speak. Give them real help, the name of an organization that can actually help them get back on their feet.

    Check out http://www.GNRM.org locally or a successful Canadian program at http://www.lastdoor.org to see what these shelters have to offer. I believe this is a solution that we should embrace and support.

    We should be proud to say we have a No Homeless policy!

  17. Businesses and landlords have set up their own legal system over employment and rentals preventing all those who do not fit their requirements left with the inability to care for themselves. These are many of the homeless.

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