A Letter from Elsewhere, Where it’s Not as Bad as Redding

Redding has problems, but many posters seem to say that it is the same everywhere. That may be so, but while Redding seems to want to play the blame game, elsewhere is doing something about the problems.

I have posted here on aNewsCafe.com, and written letters about what Cheyenne, the Colorado front range. and Phoenix are doing to solve homelessness and affordable housing and jobs. It seems to have fallen on deaf ears in Redding.

Many blame the uneducated long-time locals, while others blame the liberal newcomers. The few who try to promote Redding are treated with negativity because they are not doing it the poster's way. Now I read it is Bethel's fault. Is it?

Even in areas in California that have been as negatively represented as being just as bad as Redding, many of those places are doing more to help the poor, but doing things like using empty storage sheds -- as is done in Cheyenne and Phoenix --as one-person apartments. Some posters comment how how dangerous a storage shed is. Do they think a cardboard box under the freeway is safer?

Many areas have recovered from the recession, granted, some not as well as others; but Redding, again, according to some of the posts and articles here, is still stuck in a black hole. They blame everyone else.

Construction of homes is booming in Cheyenne, the front range and Phoenix. I see it with my own eyes. That means families are moving into subdivisions that the recession stopped, and now the homes are being built. Business parks are filling up, except for Redding.

Another sign of a good economy is how all the fast food establishments have high school kids working there. These are the starter jobs. My oldest granddaughter, a junior in high school, just went to work at Subway. Her boyfriend, also a junior, went to work at Wendy's. These are their first entry jobs and they will save money to go to any number of community colleges.

El Mirage, a city half the size of Redding, and where I live, just hired three firemen and five police officers. On their website are all the services they provide the community, including vacation watches. My new neighbors leave their cars outside with the windows down. One neighbor has a Wrangler Jeep that only has the top shade on. That is how I used to leave my Jeep in Redding. Phoenix is the stolen car capital of the world, but apparently my neighbors haven't heard.

The housing tracts are all clean everywhere. The cities have their own landscaping crews working all the time while the HOAs hire landscapers to service the yards. Rental property managers do periodic walk-through inspections to make sure no one is building a meth lab or other illegal activity.

Is Bethel the cause or the savior? I grew up in Salt Lake City when the Mormon Church had a strangle hold on Utah. Utah is doing well economically, and has changed many of its policies, some of which were like Bethel's.

Instead of blaming everyone else, Redding needs to start its own recovery program. Can it?

I am not anti-Redding. I am anti the Redding that is posted on here, not the Redding area in which I lived for 40 years.

Bruce Vojtecky lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming 

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41 Responses

  1. Tim says:

    Redding’s homeless aren’t homeless for lack of available jobs:

    There are ~200 jobs on craigslist within 30 miles of Redding posted in the last week, plus the City of Redding has 12 jobs posted on its website, plus the County of Shasta has 20 jobs posted on its website, plus there are a myriad of “Help Wanted” signs adorning the windows of businesses throughout town.

    We are 9 years into a bull market and facing rising interest rates (6 rate hikes since 2015 — matching the 6 rate hikes between 1998 and y2k crash, though still trailing the 11 hikes immediately before the housing bubble burst), a lack of workers (lowest unemployment since Y2k), and high asset valuations (highest cyclically adjusted price/earnings ratio since Y2K) – all harbingers of an impending bear market. Look around, this economy is better than you should expect for the next 5 years, so if they don’t have jobs now they probably never will…

    • bruce vojtecky says:

      Tim, when I worked at SUHSD when Redding’s economy was red hot I would have people come up to me asking about a job. I would tell them to go to the district office and fill out an app. But they wanted me to sign their unemployment paper that they had applied for work, with no intention of actually wanting a job. I would tell many people I would see about signing up as a sub custodian which paid the starting wage. They would tell me that it would interfere with their unemployment and Medi Cal. California, more than any other state, has made it better for lazy people to not work because of all the welfare programs that pay higher than many jobs.

      • Aleeta Stamn says:

        Bruce – California also has higher housing costs (by far) than any other state. Welfare and S.S.I. are extremely minimal (even in California), and don’t even begin to meet the cost of living. Aid for able-bodied single adults is nearly non-existent.

        I ran across an article the other day to the effect that millions of people are leaving California because of its high housing costs, and the cost of living in general. $800 or $900 a month isn’t much of a draw where rent alone exceeds your entire income.

        However, it’s very possible that unemployment could exceed wages for a large percentage of available jobs, given that so many of them are now low-wage and/or part-time. Would you willingly give up an income you can scrape by on for one you can’t?

        • bruce vojtecky says:

          In the Prescott Courier yesterday was an article on how many Californians are fleeing the state because of high housing costs. The article stated the top three states they are fleeing to are Nevada, Arizona and Idaho.

    • Aleeta Stamn says:

      I’d wager that most of those “”myriad Help Wanted signs adorning the windows of businesses throughout town” are for low-wage/part-time service and retail jobs that don’t pay enough to even cover the basics (like housing).

      Also, how many prospective employers would put someone at the top of their list of applicants who is unshowered, unshaved, obviously sleep deprived, malnourished, often ill, and who has nowhere to store their belongings except on their back? Even if such a person could find a job, how long do you think they would need to maintain that job (with no escape from the elements, no place to sleep where they aren’t continually facing the very real possibility of violence or arrest, no shower, no means to store their belongings, etc.) to save the couple thousand dollars needed to access housing?

      This letter mentions Salt Lake City. The Mormon Church was instrumental (and very financially generous) in helping to provide housing for the homeless – many of whom were then in a position to maintain employment. Bethel Church has made no such effort, and in fact has deliberately reduced the amount of available local housing down to practically nothing.

      • Aleeta Stamn says:

        My comment above was a response to “Tim”.

      • Tim says:

        40 hours/week at $11/hour minimum wage is $1906/month. If a single person is unable to live on that in Redding, it reflects a spending problem. Studio rentals in Redding start nearly 1/4 of that – rooms in shared housing cost even less. Thus monthly housing cost is not a real barrier in Redding (as it is elsewhere in the state).

        Legitimate barriers: sobriety, mental health, physical disability, learned helplessness, poor credit/rental/job histories, inability to save for security deposits or unplanned expenses, etc.

        The transition itself will be tough, no question. And if you wanted more/better temporary programs aimed to help those in transition, I’d be supportive. But as it is, it is doable for those willing to work hard & maintain sobriety.

        • Common Sense says:

          $1760.00 Month working min wage @40 hr a week. That’s Pre Tax! Even if not taxes are not due on that amount, it’s pretty sparse.

          • Tim says:

            Except there are more than 4 weeks per month:
            11 $/hour × 40 hours/week × 52 weeks/year / 12 months/year = $1906.67/month

            Someone making minimum wage will pay no net tax — they’ll more than get back their FICA in government benefits like food stamps, half-price energy bills, free cell phone, reduced price internet, Medi-Cal etc.

        • Aleeta Stamn says:

          Tim – Where do you live? First of all, a person earning minimum wage wouldn’t bring home anywhere near the amount you suggested. And considering that most of those jobs are now no more than 30 hours a week, even less.

          Secondly, I’m not aware of anyone who gets half-price utility bills or reduced-price internet. If they qualify for foods stamps it’s generally because they couldn’t afford to eat without them.

          As to rentals – there are now many more people looking to rent than there are rentals available. If you’re very lucky you might find a studio for about $500.00 a month (which would still take a considerable percentage of a low-income worker’s wages). However, that and most other rentals are more likely to go to the thousands of Bethel students, etc., continually pouring into the area.

          Also, anyone who has actually tried to rent a room in someone’s home (providing – as with all rentals – that they already have an income, which is the first requirement), knows that those situations rarely work out. There are so-called “sober living homes”, where you pay $500.00 to $600.00 a month for a shared room (while providing your own food and other necessities), but in that case you would need a history of alcohol/drug abuse and a pretty good income. Housing needs to come before employment, for all the reasons I pointed out in my earlier comment.

          • Tim says:

            No one said you’re limited to 1 job. You can thank dumb full-time employment penalties like Obamacare for the raft part-time only jobs, but that’s another discussion…

            And gross income is what landlords want when they’re making sure rent less than 1/3 of your income. Besides, low income people really don’t pay taxes (net). If you want to see a detailed breakdown:

            $22,880 / year income
            -$1,418.56 Social Security tax
            -$331.76 medicare tax
            -$1,115.10 Federal income tax
            -$205.72 California income tax
            +$2,800 low income tax credits (Earned income tax credit etc)
            —–
            $22,608.86 take home

            That means a minimum wage worker pays $271.14 in net taxes — and that is before we get into food stamps, energy programs, cell programs, medi-cal etc.

            Low Income Enticements/Subsidies:

            Keep in mind your $22,880 in gross income is only *** $10,880 *** taxable after the $12,000 standard deduction. And you can lower that by up to $5,500 contributing up to an IRA (you may find that you get more in subsidies than you lose in cash flow investing for retirement)

            REU Residential Energy Discount Program:
            $10/month off access charge
            35% discount on electricity
            $25,980 taxable income limit for 1 person

            PG&E CARE program:
            20% minimum discount (varies by location)
            $32,920 max taxable income for 1-2 people

            Free weatherization from benefits.gov
            $25,103 max taxable income for 1 person

            Foodstamps (Calfresh/SNAP)
            $14,532 max taxable income 1 person

            Obamaphone aka lifeline & lifeline internet
            $27,000 max taxable income for 1-2 people

            Medi-Cal
            $16,395 max taxable income 1 person

            HUD Section 8 income limits:
            $20,650 1 person “very low income”
            $12,400 1 persom “extremely low income”

        • Aleeta Stamn says:

          Tim – I don’t know where you got your figures or how much of it is accurate, but there is no 35% discount on electricity in Redding (the main population center of the County, where the vast majority of housing and jobs are located). In fact, your REU bills could very easily run into the hundreds of dollars a month, no matter how much you conserve. REU charges a flat rate – not a tiered rate, as other utility companies do.

          Also, your comment assumes that people who qualify (and need) low-income housing automatically get it, when nothing could be further from the truth. Waiting lists for this type of assistance typically go on for years, and some lists are completely closed due to the thousands of people already on them.

          In addition, reputable market-rate landlords require income that is at least 3 times the amount of the rent, and in a room mate situation they require that of each prospective tenant.

          As to working two jobs – assuming the person could even secure more than one job, the hours would need to dovetail exactly. And if the person is too poor to afford a vehicle (many people can’t), public transportation could add hours to the time needed to get from one job to another.

          There are only so many hours in the day, and so much one person can do.

        • Aleeta Stamn says:

          Tim – Nothing with the government is “instant”. And what your link doesn’t say is that the amount of funding being made available for this program only extends to a small percentage of the families and individuals who qualify. It is by no means available to the majority of people who need it.

          In addition, due to REU’s flat rate, even the small percentage of people who qualify for and receive a 35% discount on the first 450 kilowatts could still be looking at monthly electric bills of a couple hundred dollars. REU is one of the most expensive utility companies for poor people in creation. I no longer live within the Redding city limits, but I know several single elderly people who live in small one-bedroom apartments in Redding (and who conserve as much as humanly possible) who see the electric portion of their bill exceed $200.00 pretty much every month. In extreme weather months it can easily exceed $400.00.

          However, back to your original implication that people who work minimum/low-wage jobs all get no end of freebees, are making out like bandits, and are basically living the Life of Riley – that is absolutely not the case. Food stamps are by far the most available of these programs to the greatest number of people (as opposed to being funded to cover only a select few). What you didn’t mention is that the amount in food stamps received goes up or down in direct proportion to the person’s income. Someone on the upper end of the income barrier may only be getting a few dollars a month.

          • Tim says:

            I’m reminded of a sesame street song about a bucket and a hole…

            * Electricity discounts: Instant for PG&E (REU has a more elaborate application/income verification, but it should be taken care of by next bill).
            * Obamaphone: Instant many cell phone/landline/internet providers.
            * Weatherization: within 2 weeks
            * Medi-Cal: 2-6 weeks
            * Food stamps: 2-4 weeks (and yes, benefit amount varies with income)
            * HUD: years

            All told, a minimum wage worker earning ~$22,880 ends up getting at least $4,000 in various benefits while paying only $270 in taxes. So when you hear minimum wage, think $27,000/year. That’s not living high on the hog, but it is a perfectly decent livable wage for any single person who can budget.

            PS: I think you may be confusing things regarding the REU “flat rate” pricing. REU charges regular customers a fixed/flat $15/month plus $0.15/Kwhr and low income customers $5/month plus $0.10/kwhr (discount ends after 450kwhr). So a low income customer using 110kwhr/month will save 50% on their electric bill: https://www.cityofredding.org/home/showdocument?id=18873

        • Aleeta Stamn says:

          That’s a real stretch all the way around (and is basically baseless speculation). Even a low-income person who is among the small percentage of qualified people able to access every one of those benefits wouldn’t reach the “income” level you claim, since much of it is not “income”. Your claims just keep getting wilder and wilder, and your figures are so off that I couldn’t even begin to imagine how you arrived at them.

          The phrase “Obamaphones” is also just another inaccurate right-wing talking point, since I believe that program originated under the Bush administration.

          • Tim says:

            By itself, Medi-Cal is worth at least $3,600/year compared to buying comparable unsubsidized health insurance. Obamaphones: $120/year. Energy discount: $240/year. That’s $3,960 in annual benefits before including food stamps and the eventual section 8 voucher…

            If you’d like me to continue to reply, please provide some evidence next time you suggest my numbers are “baseless.”

            PS: The lifeline program began in 1984 under Regan and initially provided landline phone service to low income households. It grew under Clinton in 1996, expanded to cellphones under Bush in 2005, and expanded to internet under Obama in 2016.

            Obamaphone is a misnomer, but it is how most people know the program and is how many providers advertise to this day (Free Obamaphones). While Bush authorized the expansion to cell phones in 2005, the first provider (Tracfone) didn’t have an offering until 2008 and they exploded in popularity in 2009 – Obama’s first year.

  2. R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

    By golly, you learn something new every day. I was wondering where Cheyenne went, but it turns out Bruce Vojtecky is Cheyenne!

    Now Cheyenne, I mean Bruce, I’m going to suggest you’ve set up a straw man argument here with this statement:
    “Many blame the uneducated long-time locals, while others blame the liberal newcomers. ”

    It’s not that long-time locals (you appear to be referring to conservatives) are uneducated. It’s that they’ve been indoctrinated with “conservative principles” to such an extent it’s become impossible to pass any kind of tax increase for public safety. Which makes their constant whining about public safety seem all the more shrill and hypocritical.

    The notion that ALL of the vagrants on the streets of Redding don’t get jobs is also belied by the many former vagrants who now work service jobs at places like WalMart, Home Depot, Winco, etc. Here’s a hint: they’re the ones with the crappy neck tattoos. Be nice, they’re trying.

    Of course, there are many people on the streets who are incapable of holding down a job because of drug abuse, mental illness, etc. The electorate has chosen not to provide services to these people.

    One of the most amusing things to me about all of this is the local powers that be seem to consider Bethel an “industry.” Really? What product does the School of Supernatural Ministry produce? Magicians?

    Give these factors, its understandable why few major companies want to relocate to Redding.

    • bruce vojtecky says:

      RV, straw man argument? Read the comments on your articles and others, there are several posts that blame uneducated long term locals and other posts who blame newcomers for Redding’s problems. I only responded to what I read on here.
      Look at the posts on this article, they continue the blame game while not one suggestion on how to improve Redding.

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        Well, I’ll grant you the point if you’re talking about the people who make comments and not my articles. Because I’m pretty sure I haven’t called the people who continually vote down any new taxes on principle “stupid.” Mainly, I’ve attempted to point out that after AB 109, we’re in a new ball game here, the county is now responsible for rehabilitating low level criminals/drug addicts. If you vote against the funds necessary to do this, you really have no right to complain about the results. But oh my how people complain!

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        It’s a harsh reality that Redding’s demographics are not top-heavy with college-educated workers. It’s also a harsh reality that the high-tech industries that largely drive California’s prosperity require well-educated workforces. Based on the relatively low percentage of Reddingites with college degrees, we had a hard time just landing a Trader Joe’s. Overtures and incentives to attract businesses requiring educated and skilled workers to Stillwater Business Park have been ignored.

        As for blaming newcomers, in my experience those are usually the same people who blame the prosperous liberal portions of California for all of Redding’s woes……when they’re not blaming the McConnell Foundation and/or Redding’s last several city managers. And when these same people start in with their red-faced rants that our ne’er-do-wells are all vagrants attracted to Redding because of our incredibly generous services, or imported on busses from jurisdictions afar (rather than being our home-grown bottom-feeders•), it’s mass-hallucination time.

        *When a dude darts in front of me on his BMX bike, his day pack stuffed with the day’s haul, cigarette dangling from his lips, and a month’s income on display in the form of skin ink, I have no problem with the designation, “home-grown bottom feeder.” If that makes me an a-hole, I’m an a-hole.

  3. bruce vojtecky says:

    As everyone is still playing the blame game I will offer a suggestion from elsewhere. How much of Redding’s economy is tied to Bethel from construction to businesses run by Bethel congregation. Was the safety tax defeated by Bethel members because they feel the church will “heal” Redding? I have read several articles on here about the evils of Bethel, and their supporters praises. What is the real truth? How much of Redding does Bethel control?
    I can only base my opinions on what I read here and on my friends and family who are leaving Redding to return to Trinity County.
    Maybe someone who actually lives there can do an article on what Bethel controls.

  4. Stephen says:

    Redding is an OASIS compared to what is out there.

  5. Stephen says:

    Also undersand that before Bethel was what it is today, earlier in Redding’s history, not that long ago was Royal Blue and North Valley Baptist Church on Hartnell. North State ground zero for what was happening at the time. Jerry Falwell’s moral majority, starting KVIP radio, Shasta Bible College, Good News Rescue Mission, Vision Valley Youth Camp. Certainly the California State issues with their Christian school.
    https://bit.ly/2HNH6Gz
    Redding is shifting and changing. Bethel’s 24/7 prayer house on top of the hill is having more impact that you can imagine.

  6. Ron C. says:

    Well said Bruce.

    where I work we can’t even get anyone to apply because they have to pass a background check or not smoke MJ. The hours we provide are great for a entry level Job. 40 hrs a week, 7am-3pm, mon-fri, weekends off. paid major holidays. Starting wage is alittle above min wage (based on experience) and a raise if appropriate based on 30 day performance. Also like others have said the jobs are there. just got to apply for them.

    As for getting stuff done? you’re right. most want to complain but do nothing or it goes on deaf govt ears. I’m a big advocate on tiny houses. It can help out alot for the lower income folks. But this county says not in my backyard. Why? Most are built better then today’s houses.

    Anyways just wanted to give you a shout out…

  7. Liz says:

    http://www.bbc.com

    Should these young people, BEFORE they become legal citizens, and say, choose to live in CA, be allowed to vote on CA splitting……….. who really has the right to decide California’s fate?

  8. Liz says:

    Sorry, above reference is for “2000 children separated from parents— ‘ use the link to find the story and watch the video. Thanks.

  9. Paul Lehman says:

    I haven’t read all the comments but get the gist of what’s being said and a couple of generalizations to consider:
    1 – do really think any of the “homeless” 20 year-olds riding their bmx bike with a the requisite backpack, cell phone and cigarette is going to really take up a shovel, cash register, uniform or any other work related apparatus and get a job?
    2- minimum wage is just that. A minimum – for the new work force or those with no relatable skills. Last time I checked, you still have to start somewhere in the workforce or a new career. Most of the rhetoric I’m seeing is that business owners need to pony up for unskilled labor at the cost of their profitability and the risk of being a a long-term viable company. I’ve been interviewing business owners/clients this past week and guess what – they ALL need workers. Many would be willing to provide wage increases AFTER the person has proven themselves worthy of EARNING a raise. I’m old enough to remember when the reward came after the effort – when did that change?

    On a personal note, I’m kinda of tired of hearing from people who moved from Redding tell me how bad it is. Enjoy your new utopia – everyone deserves to enjoy where they live, so let those of us still living in Redding enjoy it and strive to make it better. Your input as to why it is so bad and why you left does us no good – if you come across rationale and actionable ideas that helped shape your newfound utopia, then please pass them along.

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