Community members push for wet shelter

Madison Holmes

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Williman Bowman and Teresa Oliver are both homeless individuals living on the streets of Chico. Photo credit: Madison Holmes

Some Chico community members are vying for a new Homeless shelter that would be open to transients with drugs and alcohol in their system.

The homeless would still be prohibited from drinking or doing drugs while residing in the shelter, said Jennifer, Haffner, chair of the Greater Homeless Chico Task Force, an community outreach group.

“Right now, there isn’t any place for an individual to stay if they have drugs or alcohol in their system,” Haffner said.

The shelter would be different from existing Chico homeless shelters because it would be the first shelter to allow the homeless to have alcohol or drugs in their system during their stay, said Brad Montgomery, the Executive Director at the Torres Community Shelter.

For example, The Torres Community Shelter on Silver Dollar Way does not allow transients or homeless individuals to be inebriated if they want to stay at the shelter, which prevents many homeless from staying there, he said.

“Every shelter in the area knows we have to turn away people because they have been drinking,” Montgomery said.

Williman Bowman, a homeless man living in Chico, said he has been turned away from the Torres shelter twice for having drugs in his system. He said he would stay in a wet shelter if one was established in Chico.

There are several types of models that would be considered for the new shelter but it would be best suited to provide temporary housing for the homeless, she said.

“The model that would make the most sense to me would encourage people to use a wet shelter as a very transitional thing, not permanent,” Montgomery said.

Even with existing shelters, there is a population of individuals still on the streets because they are intoxicated and do not have a place to go, Haffner said.

“We have a moral obligation as a community to allow people to have a place to sleep,” she said.

Madison Holmes can be reached at [email protected] or @madisonholmes95 on Twitter.

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