Is Utah’s Homelessness Solution Redding’s Answer?

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Homelessness has affected practically every city across the U.S. California, however, leads the pack.

At Thursday’s midday forum How Utah Implemented “Housing First and Reduced Homelessness” – sponsored by The Women’s Fund – speaker Lloyd Pendleton said that 25 percent of this country’s homeless are in California.

Los Angeles has the largest homeless population in the state.

Lloyd Pendleton and Kristen Schreder, Homelessness Forum 2016, photo by Debra Atlas

City Councilwoman Kristen Schreder, who has spearheaded action to find solutions to local homelessness along with several workshops on this topic, said she was amazed at the public’s response.

“We went from around 150 RSVP’s a week ago,” she said, to the almost 600 who showed up at Sequoia Middle School’s McLaughlin Auditorium.

Pendleton was a big draw in this event. Through Housing First – and in no small part because of Pendleton – Utah has reduced its homeless population by 91 percent.

For the past 13 years Pendleton has crisscrossed the state of Utah to spread the message that homelessness can be reduced and the homeless homed.

Starting around 2003, Pendleton said it took about a year-and-a-half to come together, come up with a plan and get going. It took another two to four years to come together statewide.

While most Utah mayors got on board early, one mayor took nine years to buy into the vision. And then only after being taken to Denver to see what was accomplished using similar methods.

Pendleton said he’d read the reports by Home Base and found that according to 2015 figures, the Redding area homeless population ranks well above the national average.

But homelessness like Redding’s can be reduced, he said.

“You need to segment the market,” he said, not lump all the homeless into one category. “And we need to see the homeless as citizens, as people.”

To be effective in addressing homelessness, Pendleton said, “You need to pick one of your target populations and focus on that.” Utah, for example, focused on its veteran population.

“You can’t do everything all at once,” he said.

You need to get people’s attention, he said. And you need to educate and inspire them.

Pendleton sees Redding as being solution-oriented.

“If you’re solution oriented, you’ll find the solution,” he said.

Pendleton singled out the Good News Rescue Mission, which, he said has “an extraordinary leader who’s going to be part of the solution.”

“You have good assets here,” he said. One of them, Councilwoman Schreder, he called “a Champion.”

A key step in the Housing First process to address homelessness is to commit to housing the first five people, he said.

And committing to a specific date changes the discussion. “You start doing and learn as you go.” People get excited and they see opportunities.

Lloyd Pendleton, Homelessness Forum 2016, photo by Debra Atlas

Pendleton brought it home, surprising Redding’s Mayor Missy McArthur with the question: “What date do you want pick to have five people housed?” He asked the same question of Shasta County Board of Supervisors Chair Pam Giacomini.

After initially selecting one month out, McArther later amended it to July 15.  Giacomini noted she would discuss it next week with the full Board of Supervisors but committed to housing five people as well.

Pendleton noted that “the homeless are citizens of our community in need of hope.”

Several formerly homeless people spoke during the forum.

A man named Thomas spoke of finding the Good News Rescue Mission two years ago. He now volunteers there for 13 hours a day and now owns his own home.

A woman in the audience came, she said, to “show another face” of the homeless. After living in her car for a year, she’s since gotten a college degree and gone to law school.

“There must be a paradigm shift to end homelessness,” said Pendleton.”

With Housing First, they developed the idea in June. By September, they had their first housed residents. And they took 17 of the toughest and most challenging cases to house, said Pendleton. At the end of 22 months, all 17 were still housed.

“That’s when we learned to believe,” he said.

“You’ll learn as you go,” Pendleton told McArthur. “Don’t wait for the strategic plan (to be ready).”

“Life on the street is tough,” he said. “They die young.”

The Forum was recorded by the Shasta Arts Council. It will be shown on Charter cable Channel 181 starting Friday, February 12 at 6 p.m. on Fridays, Mondays and Tuesdays, and on weekends at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. It will run through March 11. Or link to the YouTube video on

A former long-term resident of Redding who loves its natural wonders, journalist and blogger Debra Atlas is reachable or
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24 Responses

  1. Avatar david kerr says:

    Very few of these welfare cases will become net taxpayers.  Many are smokers and will need heart surgery in their 60s+.  Methamphetamine, cocaine and crack also cause premature coronary heart disease.  Many have hepatitis C, hepatitis B, HIV and will be needing costly medical services in Shasta County which is becoming a medically underserved area.

    I would rather see Oroville, capital seat of Butte county and Marysville, capital seat of Yuba county engage in campaigns to recruit the homeless so they can benefit from the influx of Medicaid patients and welfare cases.

    Why do they choose to be here and not elsewhere in California?  What can we do to make Shasta County less attractive to them?

    Children raised in the foster care system, taken from their mothers because of drug and alcohol use, have poor prospects.  This program seems designed to make Shasta a haven for multigenerational welfare, a dying community like Detroit.


    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      I’ll start by saying that I’m going to be using “bottom-feeders” here to characterize the subjects of this discussion.  I just encountered one outside of the downtown Starbucks not 20 minutes ago, and his behavior alone at least temporarily justified my use of the pejorative term.  I’m also using the term to let you know that my heart isn’t bleeding, and I don’t love them because Jesus told me to.  I’m a pragmatist, not an apologist for dirtbags.

      You seem to be harboring the common delusion that our local cohort of drugged, homeless, crime-committing losers are immigrants from elsewhere because the word is out that we’re some sort of homeless Mecca/Nirvana.  In fact, Shasta County is quite adept at producing home-grown bottom-feeders—hell, we’re almost perfectly designed for the task, with our perpetually-sucking-left-hind-teat economy, our collective distain for formal education, and our fondness for unhealthy lifestyle choices.  We’d better figure out how to deal with our bottom-feeders effectively, because the ones we’ve got aren’t going to go away, and we’re making more of them every day.  Your Pied-Piper fantasies of coaxing them out of town—or hazing them out of town, which is likely illegal—is a sweet dream, but only a dream.

      Before dismissing the housing-first program as an attractive nuisance, it might be wise to at least consider how that program has worked in communities where it’s been tried.  Has it made those communities better, or worse?  Turning bottom-feeders into net taxpayers is a lofty goal, but achieving it is a long-term, multi-generational, multi-faceted process.  Getting them into housing has elsewhere proved to be the best first step, with immediate pay-offs in the currency of not having nearly as many people crapping in greenbelts and sleeping in doorways and such.

      • Avatar david kerr says:

        Shasta county is too poor and the looming physician shortage too severe for us to be the pilot program in California for housing first.

        I am confident that housing first will work even better in Butte and Yuba counties.  We can capitalize on the success and avoid the risks of being an early adopter.

        This is really a statewide issue.  I would like to see the governor and legislature strongly supporting this.  It should be tried in the wealthier counties first.

  2. Avatar Grammy says:

    The laws have had so that sexual predators can not live within a set distance from a school.  That rules a lot of the housing.

    Shasta County already has a long wait for HUD housing.  Will homeless be put at the top?

    The financial crisis of 2008 had a lot of homes signed back to the bank (because they could often times getting out from under an upside down home).  Investors bought up a lot of them with a quick flip done for a quick sale a month later.  There went some more HUD housing.

    If you want a real wake up call to the home-less situation, be around the downtown post office the night before the 1st or early on the 1st when they get paid.  Be careful how you drive.  They are criss-crossing all over the place.

    The article did not address all the homeless young people that Redding has.  Wonder what the answer is there?   Put them in dorm room and enlist them in college.  All the kids that have played the game right down to great grades but do not have the thousands of dollars it takes to college-loose.

    Is Redding expected to buy of the smokers patches so they will be smoke free in the new housing?  Nothing sadder than seeing a minimum wage person out smoking on their break and seeing a homeless person smoking.

    One of the previous comments had an encounter with a volatile person.  YES there are a fair amount of homeless that will not play nice with the rules and will end up on the street no matter how much Redding bends over backwards.

    So what is the answer?  And at what cost to the people that have always played by the rules and still can not get HUD housing, non-smokers, great law abiding people, and young people that just can not afford to go to college?


  3. Avatar cheyenne says:

    I doubt Utah’s Housing First can work in Redding.

    An article in the Desert News, Salt Lake City, about the success of Housing First stated that Utah’s homeless population went from 1800 to less than 500 over ten years.  According to all the estimates I have seen in the news Redding’s homeless population is around 3000-4000, that is twice what the whole state of Utah started with.  The Desert News also pointed out Wyoming’s Housing First which I wrote a “letter to the editor” on anews about finding apartments for vets in Cheyenne and northern Colorado.  The Cheyenne school district, LCSD1, has found 200 homeless students, mostly teenagers, who are homeless and are starting a housing program to house these students in group homes with an adult manager, living homes not the typical Redding group home that houses juvenile delinquents.  The first house is already being fixed up by LCSD1 students and the house, actually a cottage, was donated by a local church.  This house will serve 5 or 6, a small number but a start.

    When my youngest daughter was a senior at Anderson High one of her friends was an aged out foster kid who’s foster family kicked her out when she turned 18 without even letting her finish high school, the money stopped.  We took her in and she finished high school and now is a wife and mother in Sacramento.  I know first hand about taking small steps to help.  Did all of Shasta County’s compassion leave when I left?

    All these successful Housing First programs that work are, as has been pointed out in several news media, are in Conservative religious communities where the churches step forward to help.  This is true wherever I have lived in Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado, but not in Shasta County.  So far what I have seen in Redding is give them a bus ticket to somewhere else, and this is not even a Redding mandate as many in socialist Seattle express the same mandate.

    Why does Redding attract the homeless.  Because it is known nationally that the homeless can move to Redding and camp by the river and grow their own marijuana garden because it is their constitutional right.  The homeless shelters in Colorado said legal pot has increased homelessness in Denver.  One homeless person from Minnesota stated he was homeless in Minnesota and illegally buying MJ on the street corner and now he was homeless in Colorado and buying MJ legally.

    From what I have read in the R/S and on anews I think the only solution to Redding’s homeless is to put them on buses out of town because it appears all the compassion, as well as many good persons, have already left Redding.

    This may not be the message you like but often times the truth is never pleasant.

    • Avatar Grammy says:

      Just wondering, if I was homeless I sure would want to be in the Southern California (warm days and mild summers without mosquitoes).  Why doesn’t SC have a homeless problem?  When we go down there, I just do not see them like we see them in Redding.

  4. Avatar cheyenne says:

    I see my comment is awaiting moderation.  I guess the truth does hurt.

    • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:


      Occasionally Aksimet (a WordPress plugin) catches legitimate comments it believes may be spam and holds them for moderation until an admin can review them and approve them.  There is no deeper agenda.

    • Avatar Debra Atlas says:


      Sorry for the delay in responding to your comment.

      I understand your frustration and anger at the mindset you outlined in your comment. I also share some of that frustration.

      HOWEVER, the point that Lloyd Pendleton was making yesterday is that we all – everyone there and in the Redding /Shasta County community – must go through a paradigm shift. A shift in perspective as well as a shift in consciousness.

      It starts with small steps. But really it starts with a commitment to finding a real and lasting, workable solution such as Housing First. And, as he said at the very beginning of his presentation, he was here to offer ideas. It’s up to us to take the ideas and adapt them to fit what we’re working with.

      So, yes, the current perspective is NIMBY (not in my backyard). But it doesn’t have to stay that way. If we, our local government leaders and various social service groups and concerned citizens commit to making changes, then it becomes possible to achieve.

      So small steps start with every one of us. Are you willing to change your mindset, so that others can change theirs? It always begins with us.

  5. Avatar cheyenne says:

    Also, how do you define Locals?  Ten to fifteen years ago many moved to Shasta County because of the housing boom.  When the housing bust came were these transplants suddenly locals?  A 15% drop in student enrollment in Shasta County schools while the county’s population stayed the same shows that the families have left.  Who made the population gain to replace the lost families?

    • Avatar K. Beck says:

      This is an interesting mind set that has baffled me since I moved here in 2005. I have been here for 11 years. Am I NOT a “local”? How long does someone have to live in one place before they are a “local”? If you are not born here will you ever be considered a “local”? How long does someone have to live elsewhere and still consider themselves a part of this community? I have no statistics on this but my guess is retirees made up the difference. I have heard so many complaints about the people who have retired here. “What have they contributed to the community” is one of the major complaints. Well, how about money? They buy the houses, they keep the community going because most of the time they are the only ones with money to spend. Yet they are considered outsiders. When someone shows up from outside the county looking for a house to buy perhaps the real estate agents in Shasta County should tell them they are not welcome here and refuse to sell them a house. How does that work for you?

  6. Avatar Doreen O. says:

    I don’t think it is quite so important how we define “locals” as that we choose a definition and stick with it, at least until it becomes obvious that it is not a good definition.  That is one thing that has bothered me about almost all the proposals of giving aid to the homeless—there is never a distinction between someone who grew up here in Shasta County and someone who came here for the freebies.  I remember a while back the R/S did a series on the homeless and one couple that was interviewed had driven all the way from Florida because they’d heard that the social services were better here!  I think we should be known as a community who takes care of their own and is actually a tad unwelcoming to those who are not from Shasta County.  We could start with people born here and then take applications for housing for those who weren’t born here but graduated from high school here or held a job here for at least ten years before becoming homeless.

    I also don’t see the harm in trying a housing program.  It can always be discontinued if it doesn’t work and, for Pete’s sake, don’t advertise that you are starting one!  Ask the RPD or Dr. McMullin to quietly recommend the first few candidates from among those they feel would most likely benefit and be willing to work to stay in mainstream society.

  7. Avatar Russell K. Hunt says:

    Start by designating one site for the homeless to camp without harassment. The best is the City’s property on Linden Ave. because it has sewer, water, a bus stop and is four blocks from the Mission. Keep it simple. Fire camp bathrooms, dumpsters, faucets on the fire hydrants. The people of our community can build them 4 x 4 x 8 plywood shelters. Followed up later by 10 x 12 cottages that will have insulation, electricity, bathrooms, heating, ac, etc. for around $8,00 each. Don’t go into fantasy land  with a big housing project. Yes, pursue the grants because its our money . But don’t let this become another Celebrity City with country music theaters.

  8. Avatar david kerr says:

    Why aren’ t the Chron and Bee pushing this in the counties they serve?  If this is so promising, why aren’t the cities with UC campuses and sociology departments even talking about it in their media?

    Who is pushing this agenda?  Is it the same people who pushed Stillwater, long after manufacturing in California was in severe decline?

    What is Hilary Clinton’s team saying about housing first?  The LA Times, NPR, PBS?

  9. Avatar david kerr says:

    Once the city or county (or more likely McConnell foundation) start providing housing for the homeless, they become subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act , the Fair Housing Act and their California counterparts.  Regulatory agencies and or the courts will soon find that tenants are a protected class.  The inevitable litigation will be a bonanza for lawyers.  It may become impossible to evict honey oil labs and brothels.

    Prescott, AZ has been overwhelmed by group recovery homes which it can’t restrict through zoning because of the Fair Housing Act prohibition of discrimination against those with the disabilities of alcoholism or drug addiction.  Scottsdale, AZ also has the problem.

    Wealthy Bay Area cities and counties are not considering “housing first” because of the inevitable litigation.

  10. Jim Dowling Jim Dowling says:

    First off, great article. 
    “…we need to see the homeless as citizens, as people.”  That is the make or break development.  If it doesn’t happen we’re stuck with status quo.  The debate simply continues mired in time-worn arguments bolstered by prejudices (many justified) that take us nowhere toward finding a solution.  Judging by comments, I don’t sense a paradigm shift in the works. 


  11. Avatar Peggy Elwood says:

    Well said Jim!

  12. Avatar Tinker Young says:

    I really like the idea of tiny homes for singles, seniors, and veterans and a neighborhood just for them with their clubhouse, private lil gardens, a small fenced yard for a pet,  and laundry area.  They could even have a small shopping center inside the neighborhood with garden stores, convenience store and consignment shops.  Clothing store?  Tiny homes can get expensive, but they don’t have to be.  Keep it simple!


  13. Avatar david kerr says:

    This proposal would be like adding to the problem motels which generate so many calls for service for RPD.  Those rooms would be good places to trim and process marijuana for shipment, make honey oil, cook meth,  engage in prostitution and fence stolen goods.  At least with the motels, the city can collect fines and fees from the owners.  If the housing is city or county property, it would be subject  to suits for maintaining an attractive nuisance,  failure to maintain, slip and fall accidents, bed bugs and cockroaches.

    The newspaper should think this through carefully before pushing it.

    • Avatar Tyler Faires says:

      @davidkerr Just one question for you. Since you seem to have negatively commented on most of these ideas to help the city. What are you doing to help this situation? It seems like you have the answer but are not informing anyone, or doing anything about it. I am not trying to start a fight I am just wondering what your goal is with your comments.

      • Avatar david kerr says:

        Please don’t ask me to write an essay on such a complex topic.  Kindly stick to your opinions on the topic.

  14. Avatar cheyenne says:

    K. Beck, there has always been a tug of war, per se, in every community between old locals and new locals.  I was an outsider who married into my wife’s family.  Her parents are buried there, she and her siblings graduated high school there and they still live in Trinity and Shasta Counties.  Our oldest daughter was born at the Shasta Hospital on Hospital Lane.  All three of our kids graduated from Anderson.  We have dozens of nieces and nephews living there who are teachers, police, business owners.  Many that post on anews and a lot of the staff are similar.  That is the old local mindset.

    You are the new local mindset and whether the old locals like it or not you represent the future of Redding and the community should be beating a path to your door to learn why you chose Redding.  You, as you have rightly pointed out, bring new retiree money to Shasta County that creates jobs for everybody.  But one question needs to be answered.  You moved to Redding in 2005, I left the Redding area in 2006 so I know Redding was a great community.  If, instead of 2005, you were making that move today would you choose the Redding of 2016?  The Redding community should pay close attention to your answer as their future is at stake.

    • Avatar K. Beck says:

      Might be more enlightening if you told us why you left.

      I have been here for 11 years, that is not “new.” See what I mean? I have lived in a few other places and have never seen this mindset. Why do people here hang on to this “locals” against “new comers” mentality? This is one community.

      How long have you been gone? Do you still consider yourself a Redding “local?” Seems to me you do.

  15. Avatar cheyenne says:

    I left Redding for the same reason many others have left, I retired and left because my kids had already left because there were no decent jobs in Redding.  The biggest problem Redding has is youth flight, and it is not a new one, as there are no decent jobs.  But I do see hope on the horizon as Bethel seems to be attracting more youth and businesses to the area.  Julie Winter has the best campaign speech where she says she loves Redding, and that seems to be more than what a lot of locals say.

    Your turn.