As a “last minute effort to house” people, the Torres Shelter is handing out tents

2 Dec

Chico Enterprise Record 12/2/21

CHICO — A program assisting unhoused people with shelter access ended earlier than expected causing 36 people occupying 26 rooms at the Town House Motel to be evicted by Nov. 30. Five of the parties could not find shelter within their 15-day eviction notice, and were given tents as last minute effort to house them by local shelters.

The program to which this story refers used to be called Project Room Key. Local shelters worked with local motels to get rooms for “unhoused” persons whenever the local shelters could not house them, for whatever reason. Here they insinuate COVID is the reason.

The Butte United Shelter Program was created in July 2021 by United Way of California and True North Shelter Team to protect unhoused people who have no option to self-quarantine by providing them temporary shelter and access to housing resources.

In years past, the program, with very little supervision, was a disaster. I think they were taking advantage of local motels to dump drug users that the shelters wouldn’t take, but that’s just a guess. Rooms at motels were trashed, other guests were harassed, and the troublemakers refused to leave the premises when asked. Last year, in a very candid phone conversation, my district rep Kasey Reynolds told me, “I hate Project Room Key.”

Well, does she advocate giving them tents and sending them to Bidwell Park or other city owned land?

It seems to me there is a more sensible option than just putting them out. These people need proper supervision. This is why churches stopped participating – none of the agencies or groups that advocate for the “unhoused” would provide supervision, or clean up the mess left next morning.

City manager Mark Orme created a new position in 2020 – Homeless Coordinator – and hired his friend Joy Amaro, with a salary over $100,000/year. Amaro apparently found some conflict in the job, and almost immediately quit to head over to a “non-profit” called True North Housing Alliance. True North is now running Torres Shelter, and have administered and now closed the motel program. They boast a “19% success rate.” What?

The Torres Shelter sits on city land and gets public funding from both the city and the county. The shelter director gets a salary – at last I checked, when Brad Montgomery ran the place, it was about $65,000, plus benefits. They also routinely have empty beds but still turn folks away.

I don’t know what kind of person would brag of any kind of “success” here. I don’t know what kind of idiot would give a transient an tent and send them on their way. Furthermore, what kind of public official would condone this arrangement? And ask yourself – who keeps voting these people into office?

4 Responses to “As a “last minute effort to house” people, the Torres Shelter is handing out tents”

  1. kerygmalori December 2, 2021 at 7:43 am #

    AMEN Juanita…. here’s a kicker for you: Why do people KEEP giving to United Way to run such programs that do not work? If your company has matching programs- especially at year end, make sure your dollars DO NOT go to United Way.

    • Juanita Sumner December 3, 2021 at 5:19 am #

      Good point. That’s why I never give money to “charity”. Those agencies just provide instant gratification for people who don’t really want to do anything.

      Here I’ll take a minute to complain about Stuff the Bus, Blue Santa, etc. When I watch them load that cheap crap into that bus, a stack of the same ugly doll, just junk made in China, it makes me sick. These Christmas toy giveaways are just a subsidy for the crap toy companies and the box retail stores. Want to do something real for these families? If they’re your neighbors, invite them over to a party or meal at your house. Uncomfortable with strangers in your home? Throw a block party. These kids need to feel included. They need a normal childhood. They don’t need to be held up to glorify a bunch of strangers.

  2. BC December 2, 2021 at 11:39 am #

    Please keep up the good work! You are keeping the City issues at the forefront!

    I would contend that there are there (3) facts that all of the significant city problems have in common. They are also why these issues will not get solved in the foreseeable future.

    1. Any major issue is COMPLICATED. Whether it’s the homeless, the pensions, zoning, education, or crime, each problem is a stand-alone complicated issue. As an example, take a look at pensions. Who understands these terms: CalPERS, unfunded liability, assumed rates of return, vesting schedules, a working knowledge of how investment markets actually work, generational inequity, 403(b), supplemental deferred retirement plans. You need thoughtful people. In any of these issues with their own set of complicated TERMS, the public may complain. But they have no in-depth understanding and no general desire to learn.

    2. Municipal Government in conjunction with Government Unions are an INSIDERS CLUB. A better term might be a cabal. A group that favors their internal interests instead of the best interest of the public. Every meaningful decision related to one of the significant problems mentioned above is first screened through a proprietary lens: How will it impact the status, budget, political success and livelihood of the internal club members? The municipal gravy train comes first. Public interest second. It’s not stated, its not explicit, but it’s always there.

    3. There will NEVER be enough funding to solve any meaningful problems until the Pension issue is resolved. When it comes to municipal finance there is the pension issue, and everything else. $400,000 for a skating rink is a rounding-error. Its like trying to fill a swimming pool with water, when the drain at the bottom is the size of a city-sewer man hole. There will never be enough water (money) to fill the pool. What is the current pension debt? Depends on what number you use. Is it $150 million growing at 7% plus the annual underfunding plus annual contributions? If that number is even directionally correct and the pension hole was filled, would the extra $20 million per year in the budget make a difference?

    Lets just go ice skating…..

    • Juanita Sumner December 3, 2021 at 5:06 am #

      You nailed it. We have to keep the public informed.

      I just read the agenda for the next internal Affairs Comm meeting. Coolidge wants to bring back the rental registry tax for consideration. Apparently, when they discussed this tax before, Reynolds and Denlay moved to drop it and the committee voted 3-0 to do so. This is part of a bigger “business tax”. It will obviously raise the cost of housing.

      When they brought this up before, I read that this tax has to be voted on by the public. We have to watch this discussion. I’ll try to blog it later.

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