Is Redding Cruel and Unusual?

Meet “Rick,” a paralyzed man rousted by Redding’s latest homeless sweep.

On Tuesday, the Redding City Council is set to pass a revised anti-homeless camping ordinance the city claims will shield it from a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decision last September. The San Francisco-headquartered court found such laws violate the 8th Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

The appeals court decision rocked big- and medium-sized cities with similar laws struggling with growing homeless populations across the western United States, from Seattle to Denver to Los Angeles.

In Redding, the city wisely chose to stop enforcing its anti-camping ordinance. The fact that the Ninth District’s decision came between the Carr and Camp Fires, in which tens of thousands of northern Californians lost their housing, instantly rendering them homeless, may have helped with that decision.

But despite these twin natural disasters, the anti-homeless sentiment that has made Shasta County infamous persists. The Redding City Council has answered its call with a revised anti-homeless camping ordinance that it claims is not as cruel and unusual as its existing law.

If the revised ordinance goes into effect next month as planned, law enforcement officers will begin asking homeless campers on public property a simple question.

Why aren’t they staying at the Good News Rescue Mission?

If the homeless person gives the wrong answer, he or she could be cited for violating the camping ordinance, because the Mission allegedly never exceeds its capacity. There’s always “available shelter” at the Mission, the city claims.

In fact, both Good News Rescue Mission and the Boise Rescue Mission are operated by the same parent organization, the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions.

As we shall see, that’s part of the same rationale that led to the Ninth Circuit’s decision in the first place.

Screen capture of the Good News Rescue Mission’s homepage.

In its explanation of the revisions, the city of Redding attempts, unsuccessfully in my opinion, to address two issues raised in Martin v. City of Boise, the Ninth Circuit decision that found Boise’s anti-homeless camping ordinance was unconstitutional.

The first issue concerns homeless individuals who’ve exceeded the Mission’s 30-day stay limit or who are for some other reason unable to stay at the Mission. The second concerns individuals who decline the shelter’s faith-based services, which are steeped in Christianity, for personal reasons.

Boise and Redding make for an interesting comparison. At 223,000 people, the capitol city of Idaho is roughly two-and-a-half times Redding’s 91,000 citizens. But according to the most recent point-in-time homeless surveys, each city has at least 750 homeless individuals living in its respective county. Boise has three faith-based homeless shelters compared to Redding’s one, the Good News Rescue Mission.

In 2010, in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of a half-dozen homeless individuals, Boise changed its anti-homeless camping policy. Homeless campers were no longer to be cited if the city’s three shelters were at full capacity and there was no other alternative to sleeping on the streets.

However, this measure had very little effect on enforcement of the ordinance. Boise relied on the shelters to self-report when they were full. One of the shelters reported it was full nearly 50 percent of the time. But the other two shelters, operated by Boise Rescue Mission, claimed they’re never at full capacity, because they have internal policies to never turn anyone away.

Therefore, because there was allegedly always space at those two shelters—a claim the Ninth Circuit found dubious—Boise continued citing homeless campers, and continues to do so, despite the court’s ruling, which the city has appealed.

Just as Redding’s revised camping ordinance resembles the city of Boise’s, the Good News Rescue Mission’s admission policies resemble the Boise Rescue Mission’s. Like Boise, Redding relies on the Mission to self-report when it is full, and like the Boise Rescue Mission, the Good News Rescue Mission has never reported that it was over capacity—or so Redding claims.

So, what exactly is the Good News Rescue Mission’s capacity? The figure is strangely missing from both the city’s revised ordinance and reportage on the Redding City Council’s actions. According to the Mission’s website, it’s sheltering up to 200 short-term and long-term clients at any give time. How many more can it shelter? 100? 200? 750? It’s never stated.

I put in a request with the Good News Rescue Mission business office to interview executive director Jonathan Anderson on the subject of the revised anti-camping ordinance. So far I haven’t heard back.

At the Redding City Council meeting last month, city attorney Barry DeWalt repeated the claim that the Mission never reaches full capacity.

But like Boise Rescue Mission, the Good News Rescue Mission has a “30-day-in, 30-day-out policy,” meaning residents must leave at the end of 30 days and wait another 30 days before they’re eligible to stay there again. This measure itself is designed to prevent the shelter from becoming overcrowded.

While DeWalt acknowledged that fact, he noted individuals can extend their stay at the Mission beyond 30 days by participating in certain non-religious programs. Still, it’s highly questionable that the Mission is capable of sheltering Shasta County’s entire homeless population.

For starters, not everyone who stays at the Mission qualifies for an extension—some don’t make it past the first 30 days due to mental health or substance abuse issues. Some aren’t welcome back because they’ve broken the rules, others have so many life issues they find living in a tent in Parkview Riverfront Park or the Henderson Open Space more tolerable than life at the Mission.

Participants in the Mission’s faith-based drug and alcohol program can stay as long as 13 months, and many former addicts and alcoholics have gotten a leg-up from the program. But statically, as with most recovery programs, faith-based or secular, many more drop out than recover. Some of those who fail also wind up living in a tent down by the river.

While the Mission doesn’t require religious observance to shelter there or participate in its extension program, by all accounts the Christian religion is omnipresent at the facility. Go to the Mission’s website—as any homeless person with a cell phone can and would—and you’ll find Christianity front and center, including nine video testimonials in which Mission residents credit God for their recoveries.

At the December council meeting, DeWalt implied that homeless campers can’t refuse to go to the Good News Rescue Mission on religious grounds, because the Mission doesn’t require religious observance for some of its basic and extended shelter services.

In Martin v. City of Boise, the city of Boise made the same claim in regard to the two shelters operated by Boise Recovery Mission. The Ninth Circuit, citing previous legal precedent, found the city’s claim that the two shelters were never at full capacity questionable and granted legal standing to two of the homeless plaintiffs, Robert Martin and Robert Anderson, based on their objection to faith-based services:

“Although the City argues strenuously that the Emergency Services Program is secular, Anderson testified to the contrary; he stated that he was once required to attend chapel before being permitted to eat dinner at the River of Life shelter. Both Martin and Anderson have objected to the overall religious atmosphere of the River of Life shelter, including the Christian messaging on the shelter’s intake form and the Christian iconography on the shelter walls.”

What happens if a homeless camper tells RPD they refuse to go to the Mission based on religious grounds? The Ninth Circuit makes pretty clear what should happen:

“A city cannot, via the threat of prosecution, coerce an individual to attend religion-based treatment programs consistently with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”

Nevertheless, the biggest chunk of new language the city is adding to its homeless ordinance to “bulletproof” it from possible constitutional challenges contains the exact same sort of coercion (my italics):

“The term ‘available shelter’ is a public or private shelter, with an available overnight space, open to an individual or family unit experiencing homelessness, at no charge. A shelter shall not be considered available when the individual cannot occupy said space due to overcapacity, exhaustion of stay limitations, or when religious observance is required as a condition of gaining shelter.”

I strongly suspect that any homeless person who spends time at the Goodwill Rescue Mission and finds the religious atmosphere there objectionable has the 1st Amendment right to decline the Mission’s services, whether or not those services require “religious observance.”

In an effort to make every last square inch of public property within city limits uninhabitable by the homeless, the city added “parking structures” and “open spaces” to an already lengthy list of areas where camping is prohibited.

If the ordinance goes into effect next month, local law enforcement will begin interrogating anyone found camping on streets, easements, parks, parking structures, dump sites, open spaces, creekbeds, electric utility substations, parking lots and corporation yards.

“Why aren’t you at the Mission?” will be one of the first questions asked.

City of Redding removing homeless refuse and property from Parkview Riverfront Park last Tuesday.

In fact, local law enforcement have partially rolled out the new policy already. Last Tuesday, RPD’s Community Clean-Up Team, Shasta County Social Services and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife descended upon the homeless encampment near Parkview Riverfront Park at 8 a.m. in the driving rain.

Longtime local homeless advocate Chis Solberg videoed the encounter and later sent it to me. In the video, trucks and trailers were hauling away refuse from the homeless camp as well as personal belongings, at the direction of Fish and Wildlife but under the watchful eye of the RPD.

In a second video sent to me by Solberg, a straight-faced Fish and Wildlife official explains to Solberg that this isn’t an anti-homeless action.

“It’s basically chemicals that are ending up in our watershed,” the hapless official stated. “As a taxpayer and a supporter of the Constitution, I’m sure you can agree that chemicals, such as household chemicals, feces, illicit drugs, these are all impacting our watershed. We have some of the cleanest water in the world and my job is to secure that.”

Solberg later sent another video from the scene featuring a homeless woman named “Jessie” who complained that Fish and Game officials rudely rousted her from her tent. She said her only place to stay, a small trailer near Happy Valley, had been destroyed in the Carr Fire. Jessie seemed more concerned about “Rick,” her immediate neighbor in the small village of a dozen or so tents.

Jessie claimed someone from Fish and Wildlife ordered Rick, who’s in a wheelchair and can’t walk, to crawl out of his tent that morning. Most of Rick’s property was hauled away. In yet another video sent to me by Solberg, Rick corroborated Jessie’s story.

Rick explained to Solberg that he suffered a stroke in 2015, caused by an aneurysm that left him paralyzed. He’s been homeless ever since. Rick wasn’t certain which public agency the official who questioned him was from, but the official asked why he wasn’t staying at the Mission.

Rick told the official he had just recently begun his 30-day-out from the Mission and was unable to stay there. The official told Rick he could apply for an extension at the Mission. Rick replied that he’d never heard of the extension. According to Rick, the official called him a liar.

How less “cruel and unusual” this is than Redding’s previous ordinance I leave for the reader to ponder.

That’s just a taste of tensions to come when local law enforcement officials begin asking the homeless why they aren’t staying at the Mission. If someone claims they can’t go there because they’re on their 30-day-out or some other reason, law enforcement will attempt to confirm the story with the Mission. If the story doesn’t check out, they’ll be cited for breaking the homeless camping ordinance, a misdemeanor.

If the homeless camper’s story checks out, law enforcement is legally prohibited from citing that person for homeless camping by the Ninth Circuit’s decision. There’s no available shelter for him or her to stay. The same almost certainly applies to homeless campers who raise religious objections to staying at the Mission, despite the city’s claim that such objections are moot.

We’re about to see how this will all play out legally, because the Redding City Council will almost undoubtedly approve implementing the revised anti-homeless camping ordinance on Tuesday.

Redding’s effort to rid the city’s public spaces of homeless people gained momentum last year, when a fence was erected to keep the homeless out of South City Park, and will soon pick up speed as the city’s parks and open spaces are closed from dusk till dawn.

Solberg, who serves as a volunteer witness for Legal Services of Northern California and the Washington, D.C.-based National Center On Homelessness and Poverty, said both agencies are following Redding’s moves closely.

A self-proclaimed born-again Christian, Solberg is a former Loaves and Fishes director and once volunteered at the Mission. During his past 10 years as a homeless advocate, he’s encountered many homeless people who’ve left the Mission because they were unable to comply with the rules and/or they find it excessively religious.

He disputes the claim the Mission has never exceeded its capacity, citing past cold snaps where homeless people were packed to the rafters. He wonders how the Mission will cope with the increasing number of people rendered homeless by the Carr and Camp fires in the northern California region.

“The bottom line is that the Mission cannot handle all the homeless people in these counties,” he said.

For now, the Ninth Circuit has the last word. Citing legal precedent that “the Eighth Amendment prohibits the state from punishing an involuntary act or condition if it is the unavoidable consequence of one’s status or being,” the court found in favor of the homeless plaintiffs in Boise.

“As a result, just as the state may not criminalize the state of being ‘homeless in public places,’ the state may not ‘criminalize conduct that is an unavoidable consequence of being homeless’ — namely sitting, lying, or sleeping on the streets,” the Ninth Circuit concluded.

How closely the city of Redding has read the fine print remains to be seen.

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas. He can be emailed at RVScheide@anewscafe.com.
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74 Responses

  1. Avatar George Koen says:

    Rest assured that GNRM is in cahoots with RPD/COR. The only reason why they do not accept state/federal funds is they do not want to be held accountable for their actions to anyone.

    Redding is beyond cruel toward homeless folk. Positively hateful in fact. (I have seen and experienced this fact). What else do you call the confiscation of survival items including food?). I saw a RPD vehicle remove a tent by attaching it to the vehicle tow bar and driving around with it!

    If GNRM is so concerned about the homeless, why are they not clothing and feeding where the homeless are? Why force them into their restrictive methodology at their geographic location?

    The mission spends so much time denying their religious requirements, they protest too much. Why did Anderson first support last years’ mobile showers request and then go to immense lengths to ask businesses and the powers that be, not to support the same? GNRM is no better than Bethel. Anderson has the ability to be quite the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    We desperately need an alternative to the mission. Impossibly, we need officers with a moral compass.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      While Jonathan Anderson still hasn’t returned my call, I did see video of him last week claiming the Mission has never been at full capacity, they don’t require religious observance etc. He fully supports the homeless assault being perpetrated by Redding in the name of the chamber of commerce on the name of increased tourism. Remarkable stuff for a man of the cloth.

  2. Avatar Candace C says:

    Atypically quiet comment thread this morning. Huh. I guess it is Monday. Thank you for your reporting on this complicated (and contentious to many) issue R.V. . Quite obviously we need an alternative/addition to the mission.

    • Alas, my computer error meant that RV’s story wasn’t published at 4 a.m., as usual, but nearly 11. I suspect that’s why it’s so quiet. But I hope this is widely read, because it’s an important subject.

      • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

        Doni – Because this is such an important issue (and because this article is so GOOD), perhaps you’d consider giving it top billing tomorrow morning during the hours it missed today, so that as many people as possible have a chance to read it.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      The city council knows we need another shelter but they’ll pass this law anyway.

  3. Avatar Robert Scheide Sr. says:

    First off, I donate a little each month to the mission as they are the only game in town other to hand out directly to those on the street. Oh, and I might add I am an atheist.

    It saddens me to see city after city to make sleeping on the streets impossible. It is simply cruel. I am betting it would be cheaper to establish places where they could camp and supply services to keep it clean. They might not use such a place but how will we know till we try.

    I drive up and down Churn Creek a lot and I have seen folks that I do not know how they make it. Some look older than me and I am 81. Some pushing carts loaded to the gills with their meager belongings. I can only imagine the emotional anguish they fell when all their collected goods a taken from them, they are left with nothing.

    My heart aches when I see a woman as old as my gramma was, just as skinny struggling down the street, wondering where she will sleep tonight.

    Our county being largely conservative needs to grow a little heart and jump all over the council to stop this nonsense and do something to help people, hell your Christain beliefs demand that you do.

  4. Avatar Robert Scheide Sr. says:

    On second thought we have a jail full of minor offenders that could be used to clean any camp we would provide.

  5. Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

    Excellent overview of this life-threatening crisis, and the City’s attempts to avoid adressing it in an effective, humane, and LEGAL manner. Until just a few months ago (prior to the 9th Court decision) the Mission’s website stated that it has been at capacity for years, and that a large percentage of the people who occupy its limited space are forced to sleep on the floor. That statement has since been removed – I assume to lend credence to the City’s dubious claim that hundreds of unsheltered homeless people actually have a local alternative to the streets. I didn’t have the foresight to screenshot that statement. However, I did bring it to the attention of numerous people while it was still available.

    In addition, Mission Director Jonathan Anderson admits (including in a recent interview) that in many cases the Mission can’t accommodate people who are elderly and/or physically disabled. There are also people on the streets who are mentally ill in ways that make living in tight quarters with a crowd of strangers a terrifying experience that greatly exacerbates their illness. They don’t so much break the Mission’s rigid “rules” as they are simply incapable of living within those rule.

    Finally, the claim that the Mission doesn’t force its hellfire-and-brimstone religion on its unfortunate “guests” is misleading (to say the least). Fundamentalist religion is all-prevasive at the Mission, and those who don’t enthusiasticlly embrace its religious dogma are far less likely to recieve whatever limited help the Mission provides. Residents are heavily encouraged to admit they are “sinners”, and to accept the Mission’s punish-the-sinner version of “god”.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I find it absurd that the city is passing off the Mission as some sort of quasi secular organization. I’m positive any homeless person can refuse to go there on religious grounds.

      • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

        Obviously anyone who is homeless, jobless, and broke will need more than 30 days to find work and save the thousands of dollars needed to access permanent housing. However, all of the Mission’s extended programs are LOADED with bible-study classes, “learning how to live a Christian life” classes, and other forms of religious indoctrination. The Mission’s staff can’t force anyone to pray, although they can make life extremely unpleasant for people who don’t enthusiastically get with the program. The Mission is very much like a cult in that respect – members are accepted and welcomed into the “family” only to the degree that they promote the cult leader’s agenda, and are censored or ignored to the same degree on the other end.

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

          I hesitate to call the Mission a cult, in much the same way I hesitate to call Bethel a cult. I don’t have enough information yet. I’m willing to concede the Mission helps many people, especially those who aren’t turned off by the Christianity. But it’s pretty clear to me that the Ninth Circuit isn’t buying this idea that because “religious observance” isn’t required, faith-based shelters are somehow not faith-based.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            As someone who worked with – and was otherwise in positions of access to – poor and homeless people in Shasta County for many years (including hundreds of former Mission residents), I can safely say that the Mission has also harmed a great many people. I would also debate the claim that religious observance is “optional”. Certainly no one has a gun to their head, but there are other forms of pressure being brought to bear that are nearly as effective. Jonathan Anderson has been less than truthful in many of his recent claims.

  6. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    Redding is not alone in it’s problems with the homeless, or rather what to do with them. Right now the temperatures in Cheyenne are in the teens and many homeless will not go to shelters because of rules. Rules that are in place, in Redding, Cheyenne or many other cities, to protect those who are staying in the shelters from violence, nothing to do with religion.
    Seattle is proposing to spend $1 million on a fence to surround it’s crime ridden homeless area, accurately called “The Jungle”. Denver, and other Colorado cities, are allowing limited homeless camping in their city parks because homeless camping in the woods has led to encounters with bears and the threat of wildfires. Los Angeles residents, in a NBC special, are in favor of a tax to fund homeless shelters. But the problem is the same one faced everywhere, Nimbyism, build that shelter in someone else’s neighborhood.
    And Redding does not have the problem Phoenix has. ICE is dropping hundreds of homeless immigrant families off at the bus depot because the church’s shelters are full.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      This city and the business community give a lot of lip service about creating a low barrier shelter but somehow it never comes to be.

  7. Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

    Mr. Scheide – May I suggest donating instead to Northern Valley Catholic Social Services or Mercy Foundation North? Although these are also religious organizations, they don’t force their religious beliefs down the throats of the people they help. They also provide actual housing (both transitional and permanant supportive housing) to the best of their ability for elderly people, families, and the disabled, which is really what the area needs. Redding’s rental vancancy rate was less than 2 percent even before the fires (thanks largely, I believe, to Bethel Church’s massive invasion). The heavily-religious, dormintory-style Rescue Mission model is outdated and not very effective. People do much better at turning their lives around if they have a safe space of their own, rather then having to contend daily with the problems of a couple hundred strangers.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Actual housing, affordable housing, is definitely a major part of the solution. This is a nationwide phenomenon. In our case, it’s compounded by NIMBYism and landlords that cram their properties full of Bethel students to extract maximum rent.

  8. Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

    I might have stuck it out in Redding if the public safety sales tax had passed, but its defeat was the last straw. Reddingites have nothing to bitch about if they’re not willing to step up with funding to address the homelessness/petty crime problem. I used to dump on the Mission for all of the familiar reasons, but hearing that note on the keyboard humped endlessly has grown tiresome in the face of the sales tax defeat—at least the Mission is doing *something.* The majority of Reddingites seem to want RPD to be a full-time hazing organization, as if chasing the homeless from one open space to the next is productive.

    I’m not at all in favor of allowing people to camp in Redding’s greenbelts—trashing them and shitting them up—but if the shortage of interim housing for the homeless isn’t addressed, the hazing strategy is stupid, cruel, and ineffective.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I certainly don’t mind the Mission and the work it does helping the down and out. I’m not an anti-Christian. What’s troublesome for me here is the city of Redding is pretending the Mission can serve all the area’s homeless just so it can cite people with a law that has been judged unconstitutional. Frankly, I find this sort of lying by public officials revolting.

    • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

      Steven – The grandfathered-in Mission is doing the same thing it’s done for decades, which is to create a monopoly on emergency homeless services in Shasta County. One Mission director after another has partnered with NIMBYist local officials to shoot down the prospects of more adequate local homeless facilities, and both have continuously promoted the fallacy that the Mission is capable of addressing this crisis to a much greater extent than it actually can. In fact, Jonathan Anderson once said in an interview that he would only approve of allowing transitional housing into the area if it served basically as an extension of the Mission’s religious drug program (he implied that anything else would be “bad for the community”). Why share those scarce donation dollars with other – and very possibly better – homeless organizations?

      Anderson was also instrumental in the decision to not open a homeless day center in Redding, and has been attempting to make the Mission complex and immediate vicinity a hub of social services. The Mission is all about power and control, under the self-entitled belief that its religious agenda is so favored by “god” that any means justifies the end.

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

        At this time (6 pm Jan 16) Good News Rescue Mission executive director Jonathan Anderson has still not responded to the 10 questions I’ve sent him.

  9. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    I have in my head a floor plan based on the migrant camp where our church had a Sunday morning mission when I was a kid (in the ’30s and ’40s). I wake up in the night and think about it. Would it work?Would it help? Who knows? The only thing we know now is that there is a growing population that is being abused, either by themselves and/orby others. I don’t know the answer.

  10. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    The caps are mine.

    “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or PROPERTY, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    If I ever find myself homeless, I’ll try to remember that I’ll no longer enjoy the protections provided by the 14th Amendment.

    Sheesh.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Chris Solberg is deeply concerned that RPD is taking the personal property of homeless people and instead of storing it as required by law throwing it away.

    • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

      I hope everyone will watch Chris Solberg’s heart-breaking videos linked in this article….authority throwing people in wheelchairs out in the rain, then taking away their only shelter, their blankets, their clothing, their food, etc.etc.

      Also, the agenda item at tomorrow night’s city council meeting that will officially reinstate the city’s inhumane (and probably illegal) anti-homeless ordinance has been placed on the Consent Calendar, which means that it will be passed with no public discussion or individual mention, along with a number of other items.

      • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

        A reminder that defamation and name-calling is not allowed here.

        • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

          Barbara Rice – My apologies.

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

          Barbara Rice is easily the best comment moderator I’ve ever worked with. While I personally like hurling invective in my comments on other websites and social media, Barbara has helped teach me the art of actually communicating with people you disagree with without the hyperbole. That’s right, sometimes my comments go to far and Barbara corrects me. That’s what makes A News Cafe’s comment section so awesome.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      They had due process. Law Enforcement will put up notices to leave, then if no court challenge is made they’ll forcibly evict the squatters after the deadline. Valuables are stored at the owners expense (then auctioned if the owner does not pay the bond within 30 days). Trash is discarded.

      Think something more needs to be done? There are 5 acres in Bella Vista for sale for $20,000 right now. Buy the land and let homeless camp on your property (though you’ll of course be responsible for any illegal activity or environmental damage). Oh, you meant you wanted *someone else* to do something?

      • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

        Tim, you are exactly right. “They” want someone else to do it but “They” want it done their way. Time for real skin in the game and not just on a keyboard.

        • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

          Solberg does a good job documenting abuses. Here in Phoenix many have documented abuses, recorded and reported to Social Services who do something about it, concerning immigrant detention. The unintended result is that ICE is now dropping immigrant families off at the bus depot adding to the homeless problem.
          Where is the city, Phoenix or Redding, to send the homeless especially the ones who don’t follow the shelter rules?

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

          Who exactly is this “they” you’re referring to? The relatively small number of people in Shasta County who don’t support the city’s potentially unconstitutional actions? It would seem to me the opposite is true: “They,” meaning the majority who support riding the homeless out of town on rails, are getting their way.

          • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

            RV, They would be those who show a picture of a homeless person in a wheelchair as a representative of the homeless being rousted when an accompanying picture should show the homeless pounding on car windows or blocking people from shopping as they panhandle.
            They would be those who rail against religious overtones at shelters when every single panhandler has written on their cardboard sign, “Pleas Help, God Bless”
            And if the majority of Redding felt hardship for the homeless they would pass a tax to help them, not support a ticket to elsewhere.
            I helped the homeless in Cheyenne by providing kitchen items for their refurbished housing. The VFW would send me request lists of items they needed. Here in Phoenix I work with homeless outreach groups that pack lunches for the homeless, and OMG, even though I am not religious, we hold hands and say a silent prayer.
            I have helped the homeless, written LTTE about what works, while they in Redding just want to blame someone else for their own failings. Anyone with a camera can document rousting of the homeless but they don’t want to put skin in the game by helping them.
            There have been articles on Anews about private citizens cleaning up the homeless encampments and hauling away truck loads of trash that were met with good job done. But now that the city is doing the same thing it is cruel and mean. What’s the difference between what private citizens have done and what the city is doing?

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

            Bruce, I provided videos of the entire scene, you’ve obviously watched them. In the article, I don’t pretend all the homeless are angels. And it’s not me that said what Redding was doing is unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment, it was the Ninth District Appeals Court.

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

        Actually, Tim, according to the RPD officer Bob Brannon, here’s the deal on homeless property that is confiscated. If the property is found when no one else is around, it is seized and the person has 90 days to recover it. It the person is arrested, the property is placed in safekeeping, and the person has 60 days to recover the property. According to Brannon, most homeless people do not retrieve their property. According to Chris Solberg, some of the few homeless that do attempt to retrieve their property are unsuccessful.

        And who exactly will get due process? The city is counting on there being no court challenges since the homeless don’t have the financial wherewithal to mount such a challenge–unless the Legal Services of Northern California or the National Center on Homelessness and Poverty step in, as they’ve indicated they might.

  11. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    It seems the biggest problem the homeless advocates on here rail against is religious overtones at shelters. I would like one, just one, example of a non faith based shelter. In Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and here in Arizona, churches are a major part of homeless care. I dare say the same is true in California.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      It seems nationally about 60 percent of homeless shelters are faith-based. I don’t have too much of a problem with this, although I’d like to see more public programs. I agree some folks are fairly intolerant of Christianity and sometimes ignore the good things Christians do and it can show in their rhetoric. But that’s not the issue here. The issue is the city of Redding and the Mission are pretending the Mission is something’s it’s not, just so they can cite homeless campers. The Mission cannot shelter all of the region’s homeless and it is most definitely a religious institution, particularly for alcoholics and drug addicts in its Christian-based recovery program, for whom religious observance is mandatory. The Ninth Circuit said cities can’t force alcoholics or drug addicts into faith-based treatment. This is why two of the plaintiffs in the case got standing. Getting standing means you can sue.

    • Avatar Ginny adorador says:

      Bruce, just because you know of no non-faith based shelters does not mean there shouldn’t be some. I appreciate what people of faith are called to do for others. I am glad they are there helping until it becomes a matter of indoctrination and pray to play. I am not religious either and prayer doesn’t bother me until there are no other choices but to pray whether you believe or not.

  12. Avatar Ginny adorador says:

    Very well written. Last week I took a tour of the mission and interviewed, or at least tried to interview, Matt Rivas, director of operations at the mission. Here are some of the things I asked and learned.
    1. Matt Rivas was very defensive and uncooperative. He claimed the mission has never turned anyone away and further, that the mission’s policies are always fair and there is no favouritism or bullying by any of his staff. The fact is that depending on who is in charge at any given moment will determine what rules are followed and enforced and to what degree. The enforcement of the rules is arbitrary.
    2. He could not tell me how much of the food served at the mission was donated and how much was purchased. When I asked the same questions in the kitchen of Lenny, the man in charge, his only response was that he “left it to the guy upstairs”.
    3. He could not tell me the percentage of the donated money spent on salaries and advertising.
    4. He could not tell me how many former “guests” were now staff.
    5. I asked him about the kitchen/dining policy of no food leaving the dining room. I told him I had been told by many current and former “guests” that the policy was no food could go out because the mission didn’t want it given to people who had lost their services. He denied this, then said that if guests took food out it encouraged those who had lost services to “hang around”.

    I then had a 2.5-hour tour given by the head of advertising and public relations. Her name is Austrid. She is a very nice lady. She stated, and I quote, “There is no reason for anyone in Redding to ever sleep on the streets. The mission has enough room for everyone.” She further stated that if someone was homeless and not staying at the mission it was because they were addicts who could not follow the rules or they were scam artists.

    She denied anyone had ever had their “services removed” permanently. I know a lot of people who have had their services removed, permanently.
    She claimed that 90% of people who went through the mission’s drug and alcohol program were successful.
    She denied that anyone was required to pray or even be Christian. But in order to get a sleeping assignment, you must sit through chapel services as they are not given out until after.
    She said that the mission will feed anyone, no questions asked. Unless they have had their services removed, which leaves a lot of folks out.
    She said anyone could avoid the 30 days out by simply joining a program, like work search or money saving. The money savings program seems to include the mission keeping all but 10% of someone’s assets after their bills are paid. People have told me the mission has not returned the right amounts of money when they left the program and that the mission has tried to stop people from leaving the program by denying them their money.

    My experience with our unhoused neighbours negates a lot these statements.

    I have seen people denied food, donated food, at the Friday food giveaway simply because the women running it didn’t “like” them.

    My tour was enlightening but also sad. Redding needs other alternatives but I believe the mission will fight that tooth and nail. The reason? The mission doesn’t want competition for donations. The mission wishes to be the only game in town.

    The new ordinances the city is enacting fly directly in the face of the ninth circuit courts decisions.

    It angers me beyond reason that we have criminalized being poor. If Redding spent half the time and money it spends on making things worse for the unhoused we could solve this problem and give real help to all those who need it.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Thank you Ginny for this peek inside the Mission. If it’s true that “guests” have to sit through chapel services–or even might have to sit through them–then the guest has the constitutional right not to go there. It’s definitely not true that the Mission’s drug/alcohol program has a 90 percent recovery rate. Most studies have found that faith-based programs, including AA, have at best a 10 percent to 15 percent recovery rate. Again, I’m not knocking the Mission for the good work that it does, but they’re obviously not counting the people who drop out. Thanks again for posting this.

      On another note,

  13. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    On another note, Jonathan Anderson got in touch with A News Cafe after someone told him about the article. (I guess someone in the office didn’t give him the message). I’ve emailed Mr. Anderson with a list of 10 simple questions. I’ll either post those answers here or as another story.

    • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

      Having had considerable experience with a long series of highly evasive Mission directors, I’d say it’s doubtful that someone in his office just “forgot” to inform him that a writer was doing an article involving the Mission. In addition, I’m sure he knows exactly who you are, since the Mission and Bethel Church are basically joined at the hip. He wasn’t about to risk being quoted by anyone other than a proven Mission devotee.

      We may be hearing directly from Johnathan Anderson.

      • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

        At the risk of repeating myself: libel is not permitted here.

        • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

          Barbara Rice – Then perhaps you would be good enough to answer a question for me. Ginny adorador’s comment (which relies heavily on her personal – although unproven – experience) is saying basically the same things I’ve said, only in much more detail. In the second half of her comment in particular she claims, time and again, that the Mission’s staff are lying and evading. Can you explain to me why my comment is “libel” and hers is not?

          • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

            Not going there with you.
            Deflecting to “waaah you let HER do it but I’m getting punished” doesn’t impress me.
            People know when they’re misbehaving.

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

          Comment sections can become unruly, there’s still a debate going on about people who make comments that could be potentially libelous. As the law stands now, the publisher (A News Cafe) is fairly protected by the law from comments that could be potentially libelous. But the comment section moderator should always err on the side of caution, especially if it’s a small organization (we are) that could be ruined because it can’t financially mount a defense against a libel suit.

          To complicate matters further, many of A News Cafe’s readers and commenters are highly educated and know what they’re talking about. For example, I happen to slightly know Ginny Adorador, she’s a fairly low profile homeless advocate who provides meals for the homeless on her own dime. Her post on the Good News Rescue Mission was, to me, highly credible and not potentially libelous in the least.

          To complicate matters even further, Patricia Barrett knows the homeless issue in Redding perhaps as well as anyone. It’s beginning to look like she was correct about how the Good News Rescue Mission would respond to this story. Tomorrow marks a week since I first contacted them, and even after executive director contacted A News Cafe after reading the story, he has still not replied to the list of questions I sent him. The first question was: What is the Mission’s capacity, the number of beds and the number of people sleeping on the floor.

          Patricia speculated that Anderson will instead try to write an op-ed for A News Cafe (which we would definitely publish) instead of facing my questions.

          Let’s see what happens! In the meantime, remember, A News Cafe is a safe place for civil conversation, where we can agree to disagree.

          • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

            Let me add to that:
            It’s one thing to say, “My feeling was that Hedda Lettuce lied when asked if she killed Dora Jarr.”
            It’s another to say, “Hedda Lettuce is a lying SOB who killed Dora Jarr.”

            And in the end, it’s the ANC staff who get to decide if a comment crosses the line. Arguing with us, like resistance, is futile.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            Of course I never said anything even remotely like “so-and-so is a lying SOB”, and would never use such language. However, I suppose I could have been clearer in that I was expressing my personal opinion (informed by 40 years of observing the Mission’s practices, and dealing with Mission directors).

          • Avatar Ginny adorador says:

            Thanks for the vote of confidence R.V. Please feel free to join me for Friday soup anytime. I am in the library parking lot near tiger field at 11:30 am every Friday, I haven’t missed a Friday in about 16 months. From there I head to the Hope garden by the city hall chambers, usually about 12:30. This week, Chicken Vegetable and rice.

      • Avatar Ginny adorador says:

        Who is Barbara Rice? Is she a site moderator?

  14. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    RV, this is a very good article that you have obviously researched well. That we differ on some points the main question is what to do with the homeless?

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Thanks Bruce. I think the best idea as far as the immediate needs of the homeless that I’ve heard lately came from Doni, she wrote about it recently, which was to convert the large empty lot near the Juvenile Hall that the city owns and permit camping there. Put in some minimal facilities, enough security so the camp doesn’t get overrun by hooligans. Readers seemed agreeable to the idea.

      In the longterm, there’s only one answer: affordable housing.

      • Avatar Ginny adorador says:

        Agreed, Affordable housing, living wage, universal healthcare. All these have helped to create the homeless epidemic we are now dealing with.

  15. Avatar CODY says:

    Good info and details on a problem that is not going away anytime soon.

    There are many reasons other than religious matters why an individual would rather camp than stay at the mission. First off, they cannot drink a tall can, or inject/smoke drugs whenever they want/need to. Also, they are not able to stockpile tools, bike parts, and a variety of other “found” objects.

    Camping next to the river should be illegal no matter what – not contingent on available space at the mission. The areas by the river are trashed beyond belief, and polluted with quite a bit of human waste. RPD has been way too tolerant in the past. The cops let it slide because they know that the person would be back there later that same day, or the next day – and the likelihood of paying the fine is slim to none.

    Some comments criticized the mission. One bad experience I had was when we attempted to donate a large amount of fresh produce, right from the truck (more fresh than at the market). I know they had room, as I have been in the kitchen there. The person was very rude and abrupt – they told us that “we do not need or want that, but if you are able to sell it we will certainly take the money”. Wrong answer – no more food, money, or volunteer help for them in the future from us.

    I do not have a solution. I do know that a camping area in Bella Vista, or at the Stillwater Business Park will not work. The people want to be in town where they have access to meals at the mission, convenience stores, food stamps office, panhandling areas, drug dealers, and potential people/places to rob, etc. (I realize that I cannot apply the things in the previous sentence to all homeless people. A large number are just down on their luck and would likely do fine with the right type of assistance to get their life back together)

  16. Avatar Judith Salter says:

    I believe the new language is on the consent calendar tonight so very little can be done until there is ( or if there is)- a Court challenge

  17. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    The Redding City Council answered my headline tonight with an emphatic yes. Apparently Chris Solberg told the council Jesus was coming for them and was escorted off the premises.

  18. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    Sorry about that triple post. Don’t know what happened. Also wanted to mention National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty sent a letter to the Redding City Council today confirming my analysis of this situation.

  19. Avatar Ginny adorador says:

    Fixing our homeless problem here locally as well as in this country is a multi-faceted problem with many different solutions. I don’t have all the answers but I do know, you must house someone to help them. That is not in a dormitory or a “mission” type setting. People need to have there basic needs met to function. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Basic Needs includes Physical Survival Needs.
    The first and most basic of all needs are those to do with physical survival. This is the need for food, drink, shelter, sleep and oxygen. If a person cannot satisfy this basic survival need it dominates their interest and concern. A person who is cold, sick, tired or hungry will not be very interested in socialising, learning or working. This person has a cognitive disability, they literally cannot see a way out. Being homeless is a full-time job with mandatory overtime. Once the physical survival needs are met, a new set of needs emerges. The physical survival needs still exist, but having these needs satisfied regularly, a person becomes aware of the next level of human need – physical safety. This is the need to feel safe in the world: to feel safe from personal danger and threats; being deprived at Level 2 results in fear. When a person is fearful, all concentration goes to calming the fear with no thought for any other task. For a person to develop fully as a human being there must be some freedom from fear of personal attack, particularly in one’s own home. People need a place to feel safe and to be able to leave their belongings without fear of theft. We, as a community, need to create solutions that include short-term safe housing, in an area with support services. Then long term, sustainable, affordable housing. I envision a place with a central “hall” which would include a kitchen, showers and restroom facilities, laundry facilities and a central hub with wi-fi, computers and social services, job search services, extended education opportunities and job training. Surrounding this would be a community of Sheds. A place for a bed, to store personal items and a locking door. Transitional housing, this could feed into some tiny/small house communities.

  20. Avatar Russell Hunt says:

    Yes, there needs to be an offical homeless camp with limited facilities and security. Not on Breslauer, as that is the site of the someday Adult Rehab Center (ARC) which does have some design aspects already done. And the county mental health department is across the street. But the City of RDG could donate the 40 acres at Metz Rd. and Eastside Rd. to a non-profit to organize a camp with sheds, a trash bin, portable fire camp showers and bathrooms and security. When I am elected to the County Board of Supervisors from District 2, this will be a priority item.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Well, too bad I’m not in your district! Maybe I’ll move so I can vote for you! I like your ideas.

  21. Avatar Russell Hunt says:

    The homeless have re-occupied Parkview River Park. Apparently the tough new laws have already failed. We need one camp. Deeded to a non-profit. Organized facilities. Security. There is no point in revamping downtown until this matter is dealt with.