Good News Rescue Mission’s Capacity Revealed!

Illustration by Phil Fountain.

Sometime this month, if it hasn’t happened already, Redding police may begin citing homeless people camping on public property in the city.

Then again, they may not. Last September, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that anti-camping ordinances such as Redding’s constitute cruel and unusual punishment if there is no shelter available for homeless campers, and therefore violate the 8th Amendment.

Although the city of Redding has revised its anti-camping ordinance in light of that decision, the fact remains that there is nowhere near enough available shelter for Shasta County’s estimated 750 un-housed individuals, about half of whom can be found camping within city limits at any given point in time. This number is considered a gross underestimate by most local homeless advocates.

In order to create the illusion that there’s enough room in Shasta County’s only homeless shelter, the Good News Rescue Mission near downtown Redding, city officials claim the Mission has never reported exceeding its capacity.

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R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas.
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45 Responses

  1. Bruce Vojtecky says:

    I have commented on the Phoenix Rescue Mission, in the same geographic area as Redding run by the same AGRM as Redding. The PRM is working with the city of Glendale on Glendale Works where they employ the homeless to clean up public facilities.
    RV, it would appear to me that this is a Redding Mission problem and not a National mission problem. Have you contacted the parent group, AGRM, about the differences in which the Redding Rescue Mission and the Phoenix Rescue Mission are run and why?

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Bruce, I have not contacted AGRM yet, but they also operate the Boise Rescue Mission, which is actually two missions, one for men and one for women. The Ninth Circuit found that it’s AGRM’s policy to say their missions are never at full capacity, because they’ll take anybody in. That’s the same issue with the Good News Rescue Mission. I would imagine Phoenix Rescue Mission has the same policy. Can you find out?

      • Bruce Vojtecky says:

        RV, I sent PRM an email asking about capacity, maybe I’ll get a response. According to AGRM list Arizona has ten AGRM affiliated missions in Arizona. Countless Phoenix churches have shelters, sanctuaries, not affiliated with AGRM. AZ Family news has been posting how ICE is dropping immigrant families off at the bus depot because the church shelters are full and the main immigrant detention center, Southwest Key, is virtually closed due to protests. If, as has been implied on here, there is free government money to house the homeless I would think PRM would be housing more homeless if they had the room. Obviously Glendale is not arresting the homeless when they are working with PRM to employ them.
        Redding is making the policy to arrest the homeless because they won’t go to the shelter, not the RRM. Is there, again implied on here, a collusion between RRM and Redding to ban all other homeless shelters to keep all free money flowing to RRM?

        • Patricia Barrett says:


          It’s less that the homeless don’t “want” to go to the Mission than that there simply isn’t room for the vast majority of them (as R.V.’s article indisputably proved). Also, there are obvious reasons why both the Mission and City officials promote the fallacy that there is room for everyone at the Mission. I addressed one of those topics in a comment further down the page.

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

          Arrgggh! All these acronyms. I refuse to call Good News Rescue Mission GNRM. It took me long enough to stop confusing it with the Goodwill thrift store.

          Curious to know more about Phoenix’s homeless population. With a population of 4 million, it’s not surprising you have way more shelters than little ole Redding. But I wonder if there is enough shelter, i.e. is Phoenix similar to say, California’s coastal cities, SF, LA and San Diego, all of which have off-the-hook homeless problems. Maybe lower rent in Phoenix makes it less?

          • Bruce Vojtecky says:

            RV, I sent a LTTE in January that would answer some questions you are asking about Phoenix homeless. I resubmitted it again just now.

  2. Patricia Barrett says:

    This phenomenal article (with its impressive amount of research) is a perfect example of what investigative journalism should be.

    I’m incredulous over the claim by the City Attorney that the City’s anti-homeless ordinance can be enforced now based on the mere possibility that there may be more adequate alternatives to the street at some future date.

    In addition, the only way homeless people can stay at the Mission beyond 30 days is to immediately jump into one of the Mission’s “programs” within a week of their initial 30-day period, which all appear to be “faith-based”, per the Mission’s website. In the likely event that they arrive at the Mission broke and unemployed, 30 days is obviously not enough time to find employement, save the couple thousand dollars needed to access permanent housing, and actually find housing in a nearly non-existent rental market. Consequently it would seem that there is no way to escape religion if one is to receive any real help from Shasta County’s only homeless shelter, in violation of the 9th Circuit Court decision.

    And as Mission Director Jonathan Anderson has publicly admitted, the Mission can’t accommodate people with many types of disabilities, or elderly infirm people in poor health. These groups represent a not-inconsiderable percentage of the local homeless population.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Thanks Patrecia. As you note, the issue of how many homeless people can be sheltered at the Good News Rescue Mission gets even more complicated when you look closely at the health and wellness of the homeless people who need shelter. I remain bewildered at Anderson’s lack of response to my queries.

      • Patricia Barrett says:

        There probably isn’t much he can say, since his public claim that the Mission has a normal capacity of 500 has been very effectively disproven by the extensive documentation in your article above. It appears that the Mission is already operating at or above its maximum capacity, which allows only half that number. And as you pointed out, even a “State of Emergency” declaration by state government would only allow 400-420 people.

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

          Well, I hope he doesn’t think I’m the anti-Christ! I’m constantly having to tell people I’m not.

          • Patricia Barrett says:

            You could actually view that as a compliment! Two of my father’s favorite expressions were “Consider the source” and “If you aren’t making enemies, you aren’t doing anything worth doing”.

  3. CODY says:

    very good reporting – thank you!

  4. Anita Brady says:

    Great reporting and great “side” comments, RV.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Oh, you should have seen all of the one-liners before my final edit. This story provided what writers call a “target-rich environment.”

  5. Ginny adorador says:

    Hi R.V.-
    Excellent article. I have come to expect that from you and am never disappointed.

    The only thing I would like to say is that there are 3 older, homeless women living across the street from the library as of last Friday. None of them walks well and 1 is in a motorized wheelchair that doesn’t work. I know all three, Beverly, Trina and Anne. They have told me they are all “banned” from the Mission for various, minor offenses. (Old Advil in the bottom of a purse, yelling at a loud child, alcohol on breath) I understand there are two sides to every tale but find myself believing more and more that when it comes to housing and the homeless there is simply one side, people need homes. Not shelters, not 30-day policies, and not requirements to fulfill beforehand, just homes. As for the GNRM, I’m not sure how they square the kind of treatment they are dishing up over there with their God but I find myself overwhelmingly appalled by their version of faith and charity.

    • Patricia Barrett says:


      What a beautiful post (and so true). What’s needed is actual housing – however minimal – where people can have the safe space the rest of us take for granted, without having to spend their days and nights constantly contending with the problems of hundreds of strangers in an over-crowded, dormitory-style setting like the Mission. It’s also no small thing to be free of the Mission’s hellfire-and-brimstone, punish-the-sinner approach, which is far less effective than the dignity and safety of actual housing in helping people turn their lives around.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Ginny, I feel for the women forced to live on the mean streets of Redding. The abuse comes from every direction. It’s heartbreaking.

  6. Judith Salter says:

    I fail to see any benefit in givingCitations to the homeless. What are they going to do with them? This is just another move to criminalize homelessness.

    • Tim says:

      Citation or no, the ordinance allows police to forcibly remove trespassing campers from city property.

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

        Thanks for chiming in Tim. If you re-read Mr. DeWalt’s comments, you’ll understand that there are conditions on when RPD can cite unlawful campers, and if you re-read the whole story, you’ll understand those conditions haven’t been met. Ever single ticket will be invalid–presuming the public defender has time to take homeless cases.

        BTW, what was the estimate you gave for the Mission’s capacity based off of satellite photos from Google maps? Was it 700? Based on what’s allowable in a dance hall?

        • Tim says:

          The conditions haven’t been met to your satisfaction, but they’ve more than been met to mine. As long as someone has not been turned away from the shelter and they do not object to a religious setting, they’re making the choice to be on the street in violation of code.

          And I estimated a 600-720 theoretical maximum capacity based on square footage depending on the size & number of fire exits at the main Mission & office, but only if properly configured (using triple bunks in a specific array). They use a lot more space for cooking, dining, worship, teaching, and administrative purposes than I would.

  7. Linda Cooper says:

    This guy can write. He includes the facts, knows how to spell, and weaves a comprehensive story all at the same time. The article makes me nostalgic for journalism in the good old days. More, please!

    Meanwhile, I’m trying to understand people’s motivation with not disclosing accurate bed capacity statistics at the Good News Mission. While I readily understand the City of Redding’s motivation, I’m not clear about the true intention on the part of Good News Mission. And I know it’s not fair to say that Mother Teresa never charged a dime.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Why thank you Linda Cooper. Allow me to speculate on why the Mission is participating in this charade. I think there’s a popular movement in this town comprised of right-wing, prosperity gospel evangelicals, led and financed by Bethel, who are attempting to beautify Redding by eradicating the homeless, which they consider a blight on their image. I believe Jonathan Anderson has fallen in with this crowd–evidenced by the humiliating display he endured at Bethel, where the hypnotized congregation dropped dollars into the hat he was holding in hand. But all of this is just speculation, in Shasta County’s best comment section.

  8. Patricia Barrett says:

    Having worked with the poor and homeless in Shasta County for many years, I can conjecture based on my extensive experience with the Mission (and I stress that this is only my personal opinion), but if more adequate homeless facilities were allowed into the area, the Mission would be forced to share scarce donation dollars with other – and possibly better – emergency homeless service providers. The Mission has had what amounts to a local monopoly on those services for the past 50 years.

    In an interview with the Mission’s current director, he basically stated that he would approve of allowing transitional housing into the area only if it served as an extention of the Mission’s religious drug program (he also strongly implied that anything else could be “bad for the community”), so there is definitely a sense of entitlement at play. He was also instrumental in local government’s rejection of a homeless day center – claiming (I believe) that the Mission already provides that service. In my opinion there is a very obvious effort being made by the Mission staff to maintain a monopoly on whatever local services are provided, by pretending that the Mission is able to meet far more of the need than it actually can.

    • Ginny adorador says:

      Patricia, I wholeheartedly agree!! I have said many times that the missions monopoly on donations is a big reason they are the only game in town. They have no desire to share the cash cow.

  9. Kathryn McDonald says:

    Excellent work as usual, RV. Shasta County is lucky to have you.

  10. Robert Scheide Sr. says:

    First my usual disclaimers, RV is my firstborn, and a hell of a writer if I have say so. Second I am currently a Mission monthly donator. Knew all along this was a religious operation but there is no other game in town to help the homeless, so I contribute.

    With the new laws and the Mission set to patrol the city with the van, they are getting to cruise the city for homeless, asking them to come to the Mission and if they refuse the cop who is in co-operation with the Mission ticket the individual, which of course will not be honored by the homeless. Goes on their record of course leading to no doubt eventual incarceration.

    Seems like every city is running the homeless out of their city to where exactly? I’m 82 and I have seen and talked to some of the homeless who at least looked as old as me. One old woman comes to mind her belonging were neatly packed on a Costco style cart a lot of stuff.
    The city when ticketing this individual most likely would take her gear, then what the hell is she to do.

    The cities cruel take on the homeless problem is similar to other places but shouldn’t we be just a little better than them. What is the cost of all this policing?

    Seems to me if you count what the city is spending running these folks out could be spent giving them a safe place to camp. Provide them with Blue rooms, water and shower, trash pickup and perhaps using some folks in the local lockup to help police the grounds. Try it, you might like it.

    Meantime I am reconsidering my donation to the mission, religion is one thing, cops are another.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Thanks Dad. Creating a space for homeless campers is so easy, you can count on the city and the county never doing it. They do everything the hard way.

      I don’t advocate boycotting the Mission. As you point out, they’re the only game in town. I honestly think they do good work. It’s this coordination with the city of Redding to enable of all things a law that has been declared unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment, continues to boggle my mind.

  11. Candace C says:

    R.V. Thank you for this factual and layered reporting. I agree with Judith regarding the issuing citations; what a non-sensical, absurd notion. On another note I always love Phil’s illustrations. They remind me a bit of both R. Crumb and MAD Magazine.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Thank you Candace, especially for pointing out Phil Fountain’s excellent illustration at the head of this story! It blew my mind when Doni showed it to me, he totally nailed it! LOL a three hour tour is what started this 3-part series on the Good News Rescue Mission.

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      “I agree with Judith regarding the issuing citations; what a non-sensical, absurd notion.” Kinda like a southern border wall.

  12. Patricia Barrett says:

    One of the problems with giving homeless people tickets they can’t afford to pay is that it actually contributes to and prolongs homelessness. They are then saddled with a criminal record, which makes it that much harder to secure jobs and housing in the future.

  13. Karen Hafenstein says:

    I see a veritable plethora of huge empty buildings in Redding with another one soon. What about a two-column Excel spreadsheet: “what we are spending on the homeless now” and “what would it cost to turn a big empty building into a multipurpose facility for the homeless?”

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      But Karen, that would be logical. And as R.V. stated “Creating a space for homeless campers is so easy, you can count on the city and the county never doing it. They do everything the hard way.”

  14. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Superb article R.V. I really enjoy reading the knowledgeable and thoughtful posts to everything you write. Sometimes I think all the rules and regulations and building codes and requirements are meant for the well-off people our governing bodies wished lived in Redding instead of the actual population of low wage earners who keep this town going. The people who retire to Redding from the big cities are good for the economy, but they don’t represent the majority of the working population in Redding. Are there enough livable jobs in this town for all of the homeless? Are there jobs that will get people back into a home? It is scary to know how easy it is to become homeless.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Thanks Joanne. I can’t really get a handle on Redding’s real economy, and why it seems to leave so many working people near the bottom, and in danger of lapsing into homelessness. If not for extremely good fortune, I could be out on the streets, too. I find it grotesque that we celebrate the “bus ticket out of town” project, euphemistically called a bus ticket home.

      We’ve just had a freak snow storm in Shasta County including Redding. Bet the Mission is full tonight!

  15. Patricia Barrett says:

    Since the Mission can’t even begin to accommodate the hundreds of people who are homeless in Shasta County, the question is how many will die in this weather (and who we won’t hear about).

    Ten or twelve years ago a young woman died literally on the Mission’s doorstep during a string of frigid nights when temperatures dropped into the teens. Following that tragedy I tried to find out how many homeless people die on our streets, but I was informed by the County that this information was not available because County officials use an obscure state code (having nothing to do with the homeless) that allows them to “assign” an address to deceased homeless people, which they claimed made it “impossible” to tell who was homeless and who was not. The address with which they basically falsified official records could be a “former address” (where it’s likely someone else now lives), the address of the hospital, or even the Mission – whether those people were actually staying there or not.

  16. Bruce Vojtecky says:

    In a google search for Redding homeless programs one national website has a list of 3,000 “homeless” shelters. Many of these are subject to fees which the truly homeless cannot afford. Another google search states Redding Rescue Mission is the only homeless shelter north of Oroville. Clicking on that revels that it is a Redding Rescue Mission home page. I doubt that RRM is the only homeless shelter north of Oroville. False advertising?

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I don’t know about north of Oroville (I’m pretty sure Chico has a shelter or two) but the Good News Rescue Mission is the only major homeless shelter in say a 100-mile radius.

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