Don’t Blame Winter; Chief Johnson Had the Idea First

Feb. 27 Homeless Shelter Discussion at the Redding Library. Photo from Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency.

Redding City Councilwoman Julie Winter has been getting plenty of negative press, but I think it’s time we even out the blame a little. After all, she wasn’t the first in Shasta County to come up with the idea of using a jail to shelter the homeless.

Let me start from the middle. Winter got national attention in the last few weeks after she — as then-Redding mayor —  wrote a letter to Governor Newsom asking for his financial support to address homelessness. She presented the letter to the Redding City Council for their vote on November 19 and it was unanimously approved; no questions asked and no edits made.

But it was Winter’s follow up words, spoken during a JPR interview later last week, that really captured everyone’s attention. Speaking about a homeless facility she’d like Governor Newsom to designate emergency funding for she said:

“That might be a low-security facility, but it’s not a facility you could just leave because you wanted to. You need to get clean, you need to get sober, you need to demonstrate self-sufficiency. And once you do that, you’re free to go.”

A shelter that you’re not allowed to leave? Sounds a lot like a jail. Which is exactly why Winter’s words garnered national attention in the form of a Vice article, and why homeless advocates are up in arms. But have we already forgotten how recently this very same idea was touted by other officials in Shasta County?

I’ve written about this before. Hearken back to February 26, 2019, a mere nine months ago, when Donnell Ewert, head of Shasta County Health and Human Services (HHS) first proposed the Navigation Center, a low-barrier shelter that would serve hard-to-reach adults in Shasta County. The Board of Supervisors (BOS) agreed at that time that funding from the State’s Homeless Emergency Aid Program program (money already provided by Governor Newsom to address the emergency of homelessness) would be accepted by the County, with the idea that the money could possibly be used for a low-barrier shelter. The idea was endorsed by many, including the director of the Shasta Community Health Center and the director of Empire Recovery Center, two organizations serving some of the most high-need and, at times, resistant, populations in the County. Supervisors Chimenti and Rickert were put in charge of an Ad Hoc committee on the topic.

But in a series of follow-up meetings running through May, Ewert’s idea for a low-barrier shelter quickly lost traction. Anderson Police Chief Michael Johnson strongly opposed the idea on the grounds that it would enable poor behavior among the homeless. He presented a proposal calling for the Navigation Center to be “paired with a transitional rehabilitation facility operated by law enforcement and targeted at low-level misdemeanor and quality of life crimes.” That’s right: a paired shelter/jail for the homeless. Credit where due: Mike Johnson, Anderson’s Chief of Police, was the first to think of the homeless shelter you’re not allowed to leave.

Julie Winter, being affiliated with Bethel, is easier to crucify.

And others were quick to follow. District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett agreed that no low-barrier shelter should be built “unless implemented with an enforcement component.” Sheriff Bosenko also supported Johnson’s ideas, as did Erin Resner, Redding City Council member. And then, just like that, the BOS voted to hire an architect to propose designs and to direct staff to look into costs associated with Johnson’s proposed shelter/jail.

That was the beginning of the end for HHS’s low-barrier shelter plan; a plan that lost engines before it even got off the ground, despite a year of planning. In May, Ewert came back to the Board reporting he hadn’t found private funding to support his project, and that he was now encountering community opposition. He proposed using the Homeless Emergency Aid Funding from the state for two homeless housing mini centers, essentially group residential homes close to the Mission instead, as a proof-of-concept for bigger ideas.

The BOS appeared to agree. They voted to spend State HEAP funds on these mini centers. And they reiterated to DA Bridgett and HHS’s Ewert that any ongoing plans for the Navigation Center should be considered only as part of a paired shelter/jail.

And that seems to be the last the public has heard of the low-barrier shelter planned by HHS Director Donnell Ewert for Shasta County’s homeless.

For an update, I reached out to Health and Human Services. I was informed by Tim Mapes, Community Education Specialist from HHS, that “Stephanie Bridgett from the DA’s office is the point person for the Navigation Center.”

Despite my surprise that the DA’s office would manage a homeless housing project, I dutifully called them next, informing them that I had been sent by HHS to learn more about the Navigation Center. Denise from the DA’s office directed me right back to HHS stating: “Donnell Ewert  . . .  is in charge of the Navigation Center.”

Hmmm. Surely the Supervisors would know something? I reached out to Rickert and Chimenti, members of the Ad Hoc committee created to help guide the BOS with regard to the Navigation Center. Supervisor Rickert responded, expressing disappointment that the shelter had turned into a “transitional rehabilitation center” project and suggesting I speak to Mr. Ewert at HHS for updates. I never heard back from Chimenti.

Keep in mind that HHS’s proposed low-barrier shelter would have remedied Redding’s lack of appropriate sheltering; the very lack Winter is referring to in her letter to Newsom when she states the City has “limited to no ability to prohibit and/or prevent illegal camping.” That’s true, and it’s because by court precedent it’s illegal to incarcerate people for sleeping outside if you don’t offer them appropriate and accessible alternatives. Her letter continues: “The city has mental health services, a mobile mental health services unit, shelter, and substance abuse programs available that are underutilized or remain empty.”

Underutilized? Yes, because they aren’t accessible and appropriate. In other words, Winter says, you didn’t want to meet the standards of the shelter we offered you, so we’ll keep you in another shelter by force. Or, as my husband, who spent 23 years in the Navy likes to say, “Beatings will continue until morale improves!”

Winter’s letter also states that the homeless “routinely decline shelter, services or treatment.” But really, given Redding’s lack of an accessible low-barrier shelter, this seems rather like stating that ones children routinely decline food when all you ever offer them is boiled liver and onions.

Her letter adds that programs for the mentally ill, substance addicted, and/or homeless aren’t well utilized “despite vigorous outreach.”

Does this “vigorous outreach” mainly involve the police “making contact” with our homeless citizens? Because if so, we may have found our reason why “vigorous outreach” has had similar results to the aforementioned beatings. Morale has not improved. In my experience, many people living outside are a lot like children; difficult to reason with and stubborn as hell. This is probably because, for many, their adverse childhood experiences have left them stuck in a far earlier developmental stage, unable to reason in the ways many of us want them to.

But, even if APD Chief Johnson did think of it first, Winter’s intent to jail the homeless seems particularly strange, given her other hat as Bethel Church elder. One can only assume her goal for Redding is synonymous with Bethel’s tagline: “on earth as it is in heaven.” And are we really saying that in heaven, broken, hurting people are manning up and taking responsibility, so it’s about time we expected the same here?

So, Mike Johnson first proposed the idea of using a jail to shelter the homeless. Likewise, Bridgett, Bosenko and Resner all got on board with the idea of jailing the homeless to shelter them months before Winter made it famous. As a County we’ve even previously taken state emergency funds for housing the homeless, we’ve just had a difficult time agreeing on how to use it without being “too soft” on our most vulnerable.

Since “quality of life” (read: homeless) issues are one of our biggest public safety expenses in Redding, why have there been no discussions of using our new public safety tax to help fund a low-barrier shelter? This would facilitate moving them off the streets legally, thereby resolving some of the most time-consuming and morale-busting activities of our local law enforcement, right?

Oh, never mind, we’re planning on saving our local sales tax monies to fund the our main jail. Meanwhile we’re hoping Governor Newsom will send more money from state taxes to fund our small emergency back-up jail . . . I mean shelter . . . . I mean “transitional rehabilitation center”.

Really, you can’t make this stuff up.

Annelise Pierce
Annelise Pierce is fascinated by the intersection of people and policy. She has a special interest in criminal justice, poverty, mental health and education. Her long and storied writing career began at age 11 when she won the Louisa May Alcott Foundation's Gothic Romance short story competition. (Spoiler alert - both hero and heroine die.) Annelise welcomes your (civil) interactions at AnnelisePierce@anewscafe.com
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61 Responses

  1. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    Utah’s Housing First got 2100 homeless families into housing. Anyone, like Redding’s refusal to implement a Housing First, that thinks getting 2100 homeless families into housing is a waste of money clearly shouldn’t be included in the homeless discussion.
    Homelessness is a growing problem nationwide and it needs to be dealt with. Blaming someone else for the problems will not make it disappear. The homeless in Phoenix, according to the local news, increaser 27% last year landing it in the top ten cities for total homeless populations. Phoenix, with four million population, has 8,000 homeless. By comparison San Francisco, with less than a million population, has 8,000 homeless. Clearly the difference between the cities is cost of living.
    The main opposition to implementing a homeless shelter/camp, despite available funds for these shelters is Nimbyism. Where to put it. NBC did a special on LA’s homeless that highlighted people would fund homeless shelters but NIMBY. Many cities, Seattle and Redding amongst them, have proposed busing their homeless elsewhere, but where?
    I saw Phoenix’s homeless last Saturday and I will see them again next Saturday, like every Saturday, at ST Marys Food Bank distribution. I am almost 80 and require a walker to get around. If I can get out and help anyone can. It is not about what one used to do but what they do now.

    • Avatar Annelise says:

      Bruce: I am humbled and convicted by your service. Funny about the NIMBY thing, eventually the problem ends up in all of our backyards.

      • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

        Annelise, I am humbled by the church volunteers that are present. While I am retired and spend my week chauffeuring grandkids they have real jobs and families to care for and still volunteer. I am humbled by the youngsters from the Scouts or boys/girls clubs who, instead of sleeping in or playing video games, run and load produce for the handicapped.

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      Supportive Housing First programs are the ONLY programs that have proven to be truly effective in dramatically reducing chronic homelessness, and in helping the homeless turn their lives around. Participating cities even save millions of dollars in the process. And as pointed out above, Shasta County’s estimated three thousand homeless people aren’t simply refusing services – there are just none to be had for the vast majority of them.

      That said, I wouldn’t be too quick to let Bethel Elder Julie Winter off the hook. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and anyone who attended Bethel’s “crime fighting” presentation at the Civic a few years back or who is familiar with Bethel’s general attitude toward the poor and homeless would know that ridding its world-wide base of operations of unsightly homeless people is high priority for Bethel.

      Finally, per a recent Record Searchlight article some Redding City Councilors claim they weren’t agreeing to the plan later described by Julie Winter to imprison homeless people and deprive them of whatever meager income they may have when they signed her letter.

      • Avatar Annelise says:

        Patrecia: agreed on Winter. I just think it’s interesting that the community was so quick to hold her accountable. I didn’t see the same reaction to Chief Johnson when he presented the idea. As far as the Council, the letter they all agreed to and voted to send without changes is quite concerning as I outlined in my article. Winter took it to the next level.

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          If forced to choose between sexism and anti-Bethelism, I’d pick anti-Bethelism. But I suspect the former, too.

        • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

          Chief Johnson represents old school (one might almost say primitive) law enforcement in a little town of about 9,000 souls. Winter was Mayor of a city ten times that size, and the main population center of the county. She should have known better.

          In addition, Bethel’s efforts to undermine Senior Nutrition’s food distributions and other organizations that serve the poor and homeless, to slash already-negligible local services, and to bus large numbers of mainly local homeless people out of the area are well known. No outside encouragement was needed to convince her to promote the most draconian, inhumane method of hiding the homeless from public sight.

          Having the streets of Redding cluttered up with unsightly homeless people just doesn’t look good to all the desperate, gullible marks who come from around the world for Bethel’s supposed “miracles”. In my informed opinion THAT was her motivation – not Chief Johnson.

          • Avatar Annelise says:

            Patrecia: I think they inadvertently agreed on something. And my title was tongue in cheek. It’s okay to be mad at Winter, I’m just saying we should also be mad at some others too. 🙂

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        I saw an interview not too long ago from KRCR of a homeless woman living by the river in Parkview Park. Where they were told to vacate. This woman gave the interviewer her story about how she lost her apartment, and can’t find another. I was empathetic to her plight until towards the end of the interview, she admitted the reason she was evicted from her apartment is because she was using and selling Meth out of it. So what do we do with this woman? Give her government paid for or subsidized housing? Where she could take up her meth business again? There comes a time where personal responsibility needs to kick in.
        Let’s do this, let’s not call everyone out on the streets, ‘the homeless’. There are those that got a bad break and need our help to get themselves back on their feet. There are also bums and junkies out there, they are the ones breaking in our cars, littering our parks with needles and garbage and camping out in front of storefronts. These people need to be dealt with differently. Having compassion does not require tolerating or enabling destructive behavior. City leaders should be clear that sleeping on the street is not acceptable. Nor are theft, violence and trashing public spaces. Make it increasingly uncomfortable for the homeless to disrupt public spaces so that they have greater motivation to seek out the services that provide housing, food, job training, health care and treatment of addiction.
        It looks like the Supreme Court will take up the ridiculous 9th District Court ruling that effectively bars the city from cleaning up camp sites on public property. This will go a long way in cleaning up our streets.

        • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

          Doug Cook,

          A great many people, quite a few of them elderly and/or disabled (which Shasta County’s only homeless shelter often does not accept) and low-income working families with children have been thrown into a nearly non-existent rental market when landlords decide they can pull in a lot more money by renting to crowds of Bethel students. Other housing has been turned into expensive short-term rentals for the miracle-seekers who come from all over the world to be victimized by Bethel’s various scams. The mentally ill/substance addicted (often one and the same) may be the most highly visible element, but they are still a minority.

          In the unlikely event that Housing First projects ever exist in Redding, its residents would be carefully screened to prioritize those people who might best benefit from on-site mental health and other services. And of course the extreme shortage of local housing and other facilities and services is a huge part of the problem. All that housing and other services you imagine are readily available to the area’s three thousand homeless people is a myth.

          In addition, the 9th Circuit Court decision simply prohibited cities from arresting and criminalizing homeless people in areas where there are no adequate alternatives to the streets (which is certainly true of Shasta County). Barring the homeless all committing mass suicide or being beamed up by a UFO en masse, where would you suggest these mainly local people go?

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            You are so quick to blame Bethel for the homeless situation in Redding. What about the rest of the west coast? 50% of homeless in the country live in the 3 western states. Eugene Oregon has a worse homeless problem than Redding does, and the city doesn’t have Bethel…and rents are reasonable. Portland has a ton of transitional housing options but the streets are still littered with street people using drugs out in the open, harassing pedestrians and causing violence. That should be unacceptable.

            “…where would you suggest these mainly local people go?”
            I don’t care, away from my neighborhood, where they won’t be breaking into my cars and garage and stealing my stuff.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            California not only has the highest housing costs in the nation, but the largest population (by far), so it’s hardly surprising that it has almost one-fourth of the country’s homeless people. However, until fairly recently most of the housing/homeless issues were confined to the larger cities down south. And I don’t know about Eugene, but Portland’s housing is phenomenally expensive.

            It wasn’t too many years ago that Redding was known for its availability of cheap housing. All that’s really changed in recent years are the Bethel students and other cult followers who have flooded the area by the thousands and taken over the available housing, especially on the lower end. Even before last year’s fires Redding’s rental vacancy rate was less than 2 percent, and of course housing prices have risen steadily as a result. Those higher housing costs and extreme shortage of housing have contributed a lot to the local homeless crisis.

            And I was asking you to suggest a practical solution for people who have nowhere to go. Your answer was basically that you don’t care about anyone but yourself, which is typical.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            I don’t care about criminals that have broken my car windows 4 times this year. I have suggested a practical solution, figure out who are the homeless. I’ll quote Dan who posted further down, he said it correctly, “…I wish people would stop using the term “homeless”- it is a broad generalization for a wide variety of people and issues, so broad it becomes almost meaningless.”
            We shouldn’t treat those committing crimes the same as the truly needy. The criminals, those using drugs and making the quality of life of tax paying citizens worse, are the ones that I don’t care where they go, just not here.
            Patrecia, if rents in Redding were suddenly cut in half and availability doubled, there would be the same number of street people illegally camping out using drugs and alcohol and taking over our parks.

        • Avatar Annelise says:

          Doug: While I appreciate your sentiments about separating those who are on the streets by no fault of their own from those who are on the streets by fault, it’s far from simple to do so. Take a child who grows up surrounded by addiction and domestic violence, leaves home early to live on the streets and supports themselves through theft. Is this person a victim or a predator? I would say both. And I would say we help them, and our city, by recognizing that the roots of their criminality are complex and that our role as a society is to address the root issues which lead to criminality as well as providing consequences for active criminal behavior. We want things to be very black and white but while there are absolutes, there are far fewer of them than we’d like.

  2. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    How did that Chris Solberg get in a national or really an international web site with approx. 55 million web hits a month discussing Redding homelessness? I thought local news media had shut him down as far as interviews go?

    Kinda like a Newscafe?

    Get on that RV would ya? 😉

  3. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I’m curious. Redding is a predominantly conservative city (Trump beat Clinton by a 2:1 ration) of approximately 92,000 people, many of whom profess to be Christians. About 10% of the population attends Bethel services every week, so there are a lot of people attending other churches. Bethel has made clear its antipathy regarding the homeless problem—it’s a bad look when you’re trying to make Redding the exemplar for the 7 Mountains mandate. The involuntary incarceration strategy offered by Ms. Winters seems an awful lot like hazing to me, but at least it’s something rather than nothing.

    So what are the rest of the local churches doing to take on the homelessness problem? None of the other churches in town are anywhere near as big as Bethel, so the efforts of a single smaller church aren’t going to be that obvious. But collectively, I don’t see much evidence of other local churches—individually or cumulatively—taking it on. It seems like the Good News Mission and zilch else.

    What am I missing?

    • Avatar Annelise says:

      Steve: I think Winter’s response to homelessness fits right in with Bethel’s 7 Mountains Mandate – as a member of local government she is influencing local politics and policies in the way she feels is appropriate given her faith, morals and convictions. I think Bethel’s senior leaders Bill and Kris would both support her actions whether or not they’d have stated them as publicly.

      As far as other churches, from my perspective the dominant christian worldview towards the homeless is that they should “pull themselves up by their boot straps” and “he who does not work shall not eat” as well as an acknowledgment of the “sin problems” of many of the homeless. This means that churches are unlikely to support social services for the homeless but might invest in evangelizing them or helping to support local tax measures that would promote enforcement against their “illegal” activities.

      I’d love responses from church members at churches who are proving my thoughts above wrong though. 🙂

      Above all, What Would Jesus Do? Honestly, I’m not a church attender these days but the Jesus I’ve read about in the Bible seems highly unlikely to criminalize homelessness and much more likely to invade a local Council meeting and overturn some tables.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        That’s the Jesus I’m familiar with as well. Not a big fan of Paul’s “What Jesus said, but…” epistles, but I do like this from James:

        “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ Have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

        Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of Him to whom you belong?” —James 2:1-7

        I cringe to think of the tortured “just so” explanation that BJ or KV would gin up to explain that away.

        • If I were inclined to attend church – which I’m not – the Church of Steve Towers and scriptures like these, would be about right.

        • Avatar Tim says:

          I prefer the Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

          But I still do not see anything unChristian about refusing to enable people’s self-destructive & anti-social lives. What some people call criminalizing homelessness I see as enforcing near universally agreed societal rules against those who are taking/damaging what they have not earned.

          If you cannot provide for yourself and require other people’s intervention to keep you alive, why shouldn’t those people have some say in when/how they will help? What gives a homeless person the right to steal public land and wreak environmental havoc upon it?

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            I’m with you on not tolerating some of the behaviors exhibited by our homeless population—particularly the property crimes and trashing of greenbelts.

            But it’s worth considering why European and Asian visitors come here and are shocked at street-level conditions in the United States. It’s not what they see at home on their own streets, and it’s not what they see in Hollywood movies and American TV shows. It’s too goddamned easy to just blame the people who have crashed and burned for crashing and burning. Somehow, we’re fucking up.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            That’s probably because those countries are much “better” at relegating their untouchables to segregated slums or locked away in institutions.

            Most Asian countries have much worse poverty than the US, so I am assuming Japan is what you’re imagining as a pretty & sanitized culture. But there they have a deeply rooted Honne-Tatemae divide between the apparent truth & the underying truth. For instance, the Japanese treat mental illness as a personal failing. Take a stroll outside the usual tourist or business districts and you’ll find slums like Kamagaski:
            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c9/Streets_of_Kamagasaki.jpg

            The more “successful” European countries still largely rely on involuntarily commitment for their chronically mentally ill. Germany, usually held as the shining example of mental health treatment, has 1 psychiatric bed for every 2,000 people (California has 1 for every 5,000). And remember this is Germany – the country that did its damnest to literally exteminate everyone with mental illness just 80 years ago.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            I should add that the 1 psych bed per 2,000 is the current stat now that Germany has been “reformed” and deinstitutionalized (in the 1970s they had 1 psych bed per 500 people).

          • Avatar Annelise says:

            Tim, what if the man you wish to teach to fish has a brain addled by trauma and early exposure to violence and addictive substances? What if fishing will take him years to learn rather than the few hours it would take most? What if he will need to be fed a fish every day and reminded again how to fish too for weeks and months and years. What if he will never be able to fish for himself and often be angry at you for trying to teach him? What then? I appreciate your mentioning of this proverb, which I parent by, teaching my kids to be independent and self sustaining in the ways they can from the time they’re young. But my kids are lucky to mostly have the capability of doing so. And to have a kind, compassionate, balanced, non violent and sober set of parents home with them daily to teach them.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            If he’ll never be able to be fish, then why shouldn’t he go hungry? I’m sure that sounds harsh in this day & age, but to me doing otherwise would violate the golden rule (I would not have others sacrifice for my benefit if I’d never be able to return/pay forward the favor; therefore sacrificing myself for someone who’ll never return/pay forward the favor is immoral).

            But if you feel joy in keeping a stranger perpetually fed/clothed/sheltered, go with God I say. I’d just as soon roll a boulder up a round tipped mountain…

          • Avatar Tim says:

            Imagine someone has a new super disease, but America has the ability to cure him for $600 trillion. We could save that life, but it would cost the economic enslavement of 320 million people for 30 years. Worse, we wouldn’t be able to save the next person who needs treatment for even a modestly priced disease.

            I think most people would recognize that we should let the person with the super disease die and that there is some point somewhere at which you shouldn’t help someone even if you’re able. For me a rational delineation is the point at which the person saved will no longer be able to recoup the cost in their lifetime (I see no point in spending $300,000 to extend the life of an 85 year old cancer patient by 1 month).

            Now I could be persuaded if you could show that this homeless person is going to have a negative impact on society no matter what (from crime or service calls) and that your plan will cost less than leaving them be. This was the promise of housing first, but it seems to have failed to live up to its hype…

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            Tim,

            First of all it’s unlikely that a decision would be made to spend $300,000.00 to extend the life of an 85-year-old cancer patient by one month.

            And in my opinion your posts above expose one of the many things wrong with ultra-right-wing thinking. Aside from its utter lack of compassion and humanity, there is no attempt at critical thinking, and no effort to become informed.

            For example, some number of homeless people are veterans who suffer from Traumatic Brain Injury due to service-related injuries, and who may never be fully functional. Do we punish them for their sacrifice by abandoning them?

            And how do we know who among the severely mentally ill living nightmarish lives on the street that greatly exacerbate their illnesses might someday become contributing members of society with the right treatment and care?

            Or the children whose families are homeless, and whose future prospects might be vastly improved if society intervenes to help those families?

            Or the elderly infirm who may never again be capable of holding down a job? Should we just throw them away like so much garbage?

            Fortunately much of society is beginning to move beyond your totally self-centered perspective. We should all be better than that.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            Patrecia: It isn’t uncommon. The 5% medicare patients who die each year are responsible for 25% of medicare spending… Of course we don’t always know which patients will die for certain, but we do know that 88% of doctors choose much less aggressive treatments for themselves at the end of their lives. And there are a number of obvious ways people waste money like daily imaging on terminal cancer patients.

            If you’ve squirrelled away enough nuts to last you through the winter of your life, spend it as you see fit. If you haven’t and expect others to come to your rescue, well that strikes me as selfish and unsocial.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            Tim,

            When you become older, we’ll see how willing you are to just let go with no effort at prolonging your life.

            In addition, people DO pay into Medicare all during their working lives, with the understanding that it will be available after a certain age. Our government does so little for the actual citizens compared to every other developed country, and of course it’s mainly older people who need medical help. The fact that so many right-wingers have your attitude is the very reason we need government intervention.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            I’m near enough death to recognize the futility in rage, raging against the dying of the light. Accepting reality with as much dignity as we can muster is the most human thing we can do at the end.

            PS: As of 2012, the average medicare beneficiary receives about 35% more than they put in.

      • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

        Annelise, As far as churches elsewhere I have proven your thoughts wrong. Per my comment above churches here in Phoenix are in the forefront of helping the homeless/needy. We require no IDs or bible classes, just show up for free food. But Phoenix has a lot more options, including secular, choices for the homeless. I wrote a LTTE, a couple of years ago that was published on Anews, that pointed out what Cheyenne, similar to Redding in population and politics, has done for the homeless led by churches.
        When I worked at SLC in Redding, Destiny Church held Sunday services there, and they handed out food to the homeless on Redding’s streets. Eventually they moved into the old Wells Fargo building where they said it put them closer to working with the poor on Redding’s streets. When I umpired our weekly meeting would be at North Valley Baptist and they were also working with Redding’s poor.
        The Phoenix churches have websites that showcase their church happenings where they post pantry and dinner options for the poor. I would assume a simple check of Redding Church websites would highlight any homeless programs they offer.

    • Avatar Hope says:

      Great question. I haven’t researched or surveyed it, but based on anecdotes, I think many churches are trying to work upstream on the issues through benevolence programs. Most churches don’t have the mental health or addiction expertise/resources to deal with the complexity of issues facing the homeless. Also I heard before that sometime people from churches can be well meaning but actually do more enabling than helping and have even been asked to direct any help or support towards other nonprofit programs that do have the expertise.

      • Avatar Annelise says:

        Hope: your last sentence about enabling is a very good reminder. Perhaps we need more of a community coalition comprised of faith based organizations and others committed to providing non-religious and low-barrier solutions to problems faced by those living unsheltered? Does anything like this already exist?

    • Avatar Anonymous Heckler says:

      Sir, who do you think pays the mission’s bills? Not to mention those of the FaithWorks housing/rehab program? And Living Hope?

  4. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    I would love to give the letter sent in response to City of Redding, Julie Winter, and Governor Gavin Newsom by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty in response to Redding Mayor and Bethel church elder Julie Winters but I suppose she should have a modicum of decency preserved.

  5. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    Censorship of half my comments is bad

  6. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    Redding/ShaCo has several doctors, mainly located out of Shasta Community Health & Hill Country, who have taken their oath of medical grad school seriously and literally go out into the wilds of Redding and treat the afflicted, regardless of their condition. I would say about 25% have dogs as both companions and guardian against those who would injure or rob them. Any facility that does not have a shelter for the street folk’s companion is derelect. Now as far as Shasta County’s 3 City Councils and Sups, which number 15 individuals; they hold the street folks future in their hands. They need to engage in a 3-day planning session, without the influence of their supporters or detractors and come up with a sensible plan to deal with this whirling mass of humanity we’ve all seen for the last 5-8 years in our community. They’ve all had countless strategies presented to them, they’ve all attended countless forums and have read countless data on dealing with this issue, now they need to deal with it or step aside and let some new voices reign.

  7. Avatar Shannon Hicks says:

    Here are the details from the Record Searchlight’s column on April 23, 2019 that shed light on the proposed Life Center.

    ___The Record Searchlight: 4/23/2019
    How the proposed Life Center would work

    Like the navigation center, the Life Center would have 60 beds for homeless guests. The other 60 beds would be part of the misdemeanor detention complex.

    Guests could walk in or enter the Life Center due to a run-in with the law.

    The facility would be governed by a board of directors and the progress of individual homeless cases would be monitored by an assessment panel made up of law enforcement and social service representatives.
    Somebody arrested for a low-level misdemeanor like public drunkenness would be booked into the detention complex, then he would be arraigned inside the complex, Johnson said.

    “The key to this model is, we are going to hold court onsite,” Johnson said, adding the judge could be beamed in via video. “We could run court five days a week as needed.”
    If the offender asks for his case to be diverted, it will be suspended, but “held over his head for accountability” while he seeks help from social services, Johnson said.

    If the person pleads guilty, the offender will do time in the detention complex. An innocent plea means the case goes to the onsite court, Johnson said.

    Guests who stay at the Life Center’s shelter would be connected to services after 30 days.
    “There are lots of different options and places to treat them,” Johnson said after Tuesday’s meeting.___

    • Avatar annelise says:

      Shannon, thanks for these detailed notes. As I wrote in my last article on this subject, any shelter which has 50% of it’s beds comprised of jail beds is not low-barrier to the homeless (or anyone). Would you want to stay at a hostel with a court onsite and where breaking a rule could land you next door in the locked guest rooms? Would you want to stay a hostel where your options for arrival include walking in or arriving under restraint by law enforcement?

      • Avatar Shannon Hicks says:

        If I had few options left I would stay at a hostel even with a court on site. As far as breaking a rule booting you into the locked guest rooms- I have never seen such a plan…only the incarceration of those who have been arrested and being held for trial. If you can find where the plan states a mere infraction on-site gets someone locked up and removed from the low-barrier facility let me know and I will bring it up to the BOS.

        • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

          Shannon Hicks,

          This is a slippery slope. Since the City of Redding in its wisdom has already decided that people with nowhere to go who sleep in public are guilty of a “crime” (also known as “Sleeping While Homeless”), where do we draw the line as to what constitutes a crime that warrants being forcibly incarcerated in homeless jail? City officials have already proven that they aren’t the least bit concerned with constitutional rights as they apply to the homeless.

          Also, recent Mayor Julie Winter claimed that no one will have the option of leaving at will (which apparently includes anyone who doesn’t meet a standard of mental health determined by the City, and who will be deprived of whatever income they have). How can we call these people “guests” with a straight face?

          • Avatar Shannon Hicks says:

            Patrecia, I agree our local government has several slippery slopes. That said, here are a couple of observations:

            The city council endorsed the letter to the governor, but not the statements made by former mayor Winter.

            The city has no jurisdiction as to how the county facility (Navigation Center) is run.

            Beyond that, I have no knowledge of the specific rules that would make a minor infraction in the non-detention side put someone in the secure facility without a criminal misdemeanor or felony charge.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            Since the City of Redding has gotten involved via the letter, I assumed it would have some input into how the facility is operated – especially since RPD would be heavily involved.

            And given the slew of local anti-homeless laws that exist is Redding, it would be entirely possible to make a case that nearly every homeless person is violating one of those laws (no sitting in certain areas, no “loitering”, no sleeping, no camping, no drinking etc. etc.)

            It’s interesting that I now live in a city ten times the size of Redding that has NO anti-homeless laws. Of course there are very few homeless people here by comparison – housing is cheap and plentiful, and most jobs actually support the average cost of housing. It’s also a very progressive city and county, which means there are more facilities and services for the poor and homeless.

  8. Avatar Dan says:

    Good read Annelise, however, I take exception with your depiction of Chief Johnson’s presentation. The video of his presentation was spread on social media, so I know it is available. What Winters proposed in her NPR interview was not that, or what the law requires per the “Lanterman-Petris-Short act”, to me it sounded a bit like grave sucking/channeling a bit of that old socialist Joe Stalin. Stalin made “sweeps” and mandatory commitments in mental asylums and Gulags for everyone he deemed crazy..ie; didn’t agree with him.

    I wish people would stop using the term “homeless”- it is a broad generalization for a wide variety of people and issues, so broad it becomes almost meaningless. Are we talking about a HUMAN with a physical disability? Someone fallen on financial hard times? Domestic abuse victim? Drug/alcohol addiction? Credit problems/low FICO/ unable to rent? A gravely disabling mental issue, like, Schizophrenia, Paranoia, extreme depression or bipolar? A Paroled sex offender or felon most landlords will not rent to? Or a person who has simply decided to live outside society’s norms and prey on fellow humans to meet their imediate “needs”? What I heard Chief Johnson talk about was simply sorting INDIVIDUALS legally ARRESTED and jailed for “petty” repeat CRIMES and rehabilitating those individuals who CHOOSE to seek help.

    • Avatar annelise says:

      Dan: Thanks for your comments as always. My depiction of Chief Johnson’s presentation was taken directly from the Shasta County BOS minutes which is, hopefully, a highly objective and accurate source. While we may feel as a community that Winter took this concept much farther, my point in this article is to highlight that we were already introduced to the idea of a shelter that included detention and that, at the time, we were unconcerned. I find this fascinating.

      I appreciate your notes about the term homeless and agree it is not a very helpful term. I prefer unsheltered but I’m still learning about the best terminology for this population.

      In your last paragraph above I’m not sure whether you’re contrasting the term human with the terms paroled sex offender and felon (also both humans of course, just humans we have labelled in order to declare them ‘other’ than us.) The problem is that those living on the streets may not choose to seek help in the same way that a toddler with a dirty diaper may not choose to seek help. This does not mean we as a society should punish them for that lack of choosing. Instead we can see them in their limited capacity and come alongside them to provide ongoing, lasting solutions.

      I explain more on why I think it is often difficult to separate the victim from the predator in my comments to Doug above.

    • Avatar Lew says:

      I agree with you Dan. To be effective a discussion must be scaled so vague terms like ‘homeless’ aren’t so easily misused. I too have personally seen Chief Johnson’s presentation and walked away with a VERY different impression than this article presents. BOS minutes might be a technically ‘credible’ reference, but they are not a prudent substitute for detailed first hand knowledge that comes from a bit more homework.

      • Avatar Annelise says:

        Lew: I love your use of the word “credible” in quotes to refer to the official Brown Act required minutes of our local Board of Supervisors. 🙂 I especially love that you view them as a less significant source than anecdotal first hand knowledge. 🙂

  9. Avatar Russell K. Hunt says:

    Shed camps for the homeless is a partial answer and paid for by their SSI as rent.

  10. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    Terminology: I prefer…Whirling Mass of Humanity.
    These street folks are having to Sleep Walk as the City continuously fences off any area where they may congregate. Just stand in front of the downtown PO and you’ll see the WMH go by on a daily basis.
    Rehab the boarded up motel on Pine St and get 60-100 off the streets in 45 days. Meanwhile, egos are saying, ‘No, it’s my plan that is best !’….and nothing happens.

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