Amidst a flurry of news coverage of Chico Friends on the Street and the mounting opposition to its actions by local groups and city officials, the latest Chico News and Review editorial, “Compassion above all else: Efforts to further criminalize homelessness solve nothing and make people more miserable,” contextualizes homelessness in Chico and takes a stance against criminalization of homeless folks.
The editorial notes the systemic causes of poverty and invites cleanup groups like Chico First to recognize and support proven solutions, rather than ineffective, punitive non-solutions:
We get Chico First’s frustrations with the side effects, including panhandling and litter. We understand wanting to keep the environment “clean and safe.” But we also know that demonizing this already marginalized population isn’t the answer. Nor is making their lives more difficult by codifying laws targeting them, such as the proposal to outlaw food giveaways in the city center.
Indeed, Chico First members would be wise to expend their time and energy on efforts that are proven to mitigate homelessness. At the top of that list, based on a growing body of research, is housing first. That’s the model in which people are immediately placed into stable living environments—it’s at that point they are more likely to successfully address the underlying issues that led to life on the streets.
Read the editorial here.