Donate time, not money to fix homeless problem

When students walk around downtown Chico, they pass by lots of homeless people sitting or lying on the sidewalk.

editorial10Most of the homeless people ask students or visiting parents for money or food when they walk by. Many students, who imagine that they’re doing the less fortunate a favor, decide to hand over the money.

But students should not give them handouts. It only encourages them to come back to local businesses for a free ride and continue harassing passersby.

Some people claim that the homeless are mentally unable to take care of themselves and that handouts ease their suffering. But if the homeless are truly incapable of taking care of themselves, giving them money is only feeding a vicious cycle that keeps them on the streets while simultaneously destroying the reputation of downtown Chico.

If you truly care about the Chico homeless population, there are alternatives to opening up your wallet. Rather, you should show up at city council meetings to advocate for a new city ordinance.

The Chico City Council is bringing back an amended version of the sit-and-lie ordinance, a law that would prohibit homeless people from lying on sidewalks between Salem and Flume streets, as well as Big Chico and Little Chico creeks.

If the civil sidewalks ordinance is passed, downtown businesses will not have to worry about homeless people coming in and begging for money or destroying the pleasant atmosphere of their stores. And most of all, homeless people will be forced to get off our sidewalks and into shelters, where they can learn to care for themselves.

And once the law is passed, don’t stop there. If you feel bad for a homeless person, donate your money and time to one of the homeless shelters in town. They are great resources for homeless people that encourage them to get back on their feet.

All of these measures will ensure that Chico’s homeless population spends its time recuperating in shelters rather than begging from students, parents and business owners.


Cartoon by Liz Coffee.