Chico residents need compassion for the homeless


Photo credit: Kristina Judy

Kyra Stemplinger

When walking around Chico, it’s not unusual to see a person pushing a shopping cart or asking for spare change. However, it is rare to see someone actually give money to the homeless.

There are conflicting views about the homeless population in Chico. While some people want to help the 1,127 afflicted people, most just avoid making eye contact with them.

The homeless population has decreased recently, and Chico does have several shelters to help them. Although it can help them stay safe for a night, it does little to help them get back on their feet.

Many residents of the Chico area and farther out into Butte County feel that the presence of homeless people in concentrated shopping areas or in parks ruins the atmosphere that they’ve worked to develop. The cute downtown areas and the nice shopping mall areas aren’t enjoyable when crowded with people begging for help in some way.

Beyond diminishing property value, people also distrust giving away their money. The concern that the money is not being spent properly makes people more wary about where their spare change is going.

The caution that people have exhibited is linked to a general stigma against the homeless population. The notion that every homeless person is on drugs or mentally ill has even seeped into the laws in Chico.

When Chico passed the sit-lie law in November 2013, it prohibited sitting or lying on sidewalks, curbs or streets. Violations of the law resulted in fines, which directly targeted the homeless population.

Sixty percent of involved members of the public opposed this law, believing that it was inhumane, according to Chico ER. Tami Ritter and Randall Stone, two councilors involved in the issue, saw this law as being ineffective going forward and most likely problematic for other areas of the community.

Members of said community still see homeless people violating the previously implemented law, proving the two councilors’ sentiments to be exactly right.

Hard times hit everyone, some harder than others, and it seems that as the years go by, a big thing we constantly leave behind is compassion. When it’s possible to lend a helping hand, it should become a priority.

Volunteering at a shelter, giving extra food and helping fund services implemented by the community are all ways to get involved and assist the homeless. Since laws and regulations will only drive the homeless population away without helping them, the citizens of Chico need to help by trying to get people back on their feet.

Kyra Stemplinger can be reached at [email protected] or @TheOrion_News on Twitter.