Was city influenced by homeless consultant?

The following letter appeared in the Chico Enterprise-Record on December 10, 2017:

Was city influenced by homeless consultant?

At a recent panel discussion on homelessness, Jesus Center Director Laura Cootsona was asked about the cost and fate of the Robert Marbut “deep dive” study, which was commissioned by the Jesus Center last spring. Cootsona declined to reveal the cost and indicated the study was kept in-house and would not be made public. When pressed on whether the report was shared with Chico city government, Cootsona indicated it was not.

Since Marbut is a controversial consultant, who recommends that municipalities build one central compound and contain the homeless — by means of deprivation (ending citywide food and clothing distribution, etc.) and criminalization (a choice between county jail and a compound) — it’s important to know if his report was in fact held in strict confidence at the Jesus Center.

Since influential Jesus Center board member Mayo Ryan brought Marbut to Chico, is it reasonable to think he would not have shared Marbut’s recommendations with City Manager Mark Orme? If he did share these recommendations, is it reasonable to think it happened without Cootsona’s knowledge?

It’s an interesting coincidence that Marbut was here last spring and a few months later Orme presented the Jesus Center with city property for a compound. What gives?

— Patrick Newman, Chico

Next, check out

1 Comment

  1. With drastic tax changes in the works and devastating fires that are displacing thousands of families in California, it is likely that the homeless population will increase dramatically. Hard to imagine, but what else could happen when the safety net is pulled out from under those who already struggle to keep a roof over their heads?

    No thanks to the Regan policies, we have already seen what happens. Homelessness was rare before Regan and his cronies started dismantling public programs. Now homelessness is rampant. Cause and effect.

    This problem is not going to be solved by herding all the homeless into “compounds.” Maybe that could work temporarily in a smallish town like Chico, but what about the sprawling homeless encampments in Oakland, San Diego, and many other California cities?

    These camps are perfect breeding grounds for disease outbreaks, as we recently saw in San Diego. People are dying of hypothermia on the streets of Oakland. Yet, self-proclaimed “Christian” lawmakers continue working to destroy any remaining programs that could give these people a way out – just so they can siphon more money into their own overstuffed pockets.

    At least the Jesus Center is attempting to put a bandaid on the problem. That is commendable, but this is a much larger political issue. We are going to need a fundamental change of heart in the American population to solve this problem. We are going to have to value decency, respect, and compassion above money, status, and technological gadgets – and we are going to have to get people all over the country to vote for candidates who stand for higher values.

    I think most people would say they value decency, respect, and compassion, but obviously not enough people are voting based on those values. It is largely a language issue. The conservatives have been very good at coming up with slogans that sound like values – family, jobs, “make America great again,” and the famous “trickle down” theory that left the middle and lower classes scrambling for scraps from the feasts of the wealthy. People buy into that stuff without realizing they are being duped.

    We who care about the welfare of the less fortunate (not to mention our future generations) need our own catchy slogans that speak to the true values of “middle America” – slogans that inspire people to vote for compassion, a clean and healthy environment, health care that really supports health (rather than enriching the pharmaceutical industry and insurance companies), green jobs that support life rather than destroy it, assurance that Social Security and Medicare will be there when they need it.

    These are all things that Americans overwhelmingly support, yet so many have been fooled into voting against their own interests. How can we turn that around? When we figure out how to do that, we will really be able to solve the homelessness problem.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *