Torres Homeless Shelter expansion approved during City Planning Commission meeting


The Chico City Planning Commission met on Thursday evening to discuss the proposed expansion of the Torres Community Center from 125 beds to 195. 

In a unanimous vote, the commission approved expanding The Torres Community Center’s occupancy limit by 70 more beds.

Applicant Matt Gallaway and volunteer program designer Mike Trolinder spoke before the commision. Trolinder mentioned that their hope with the restructure of the facility would allow them to expand their hours and provide a place for anyone to sleep, rest or relax 24 hours a day.

“The idea is to accommodate, not to hold judgment. … They’re only people, we don’t want to add to their trauma,” Trolinder said.

The shelter is a low-barrier nonprofit emergency shelter for unhoused individuals in need. The center is a part of a larger organization, True North Housing Alliance, previously known as the Chico Community Shelter Partnership.

The shelter provides meals, laundry services, mental and physical health services and assistance moving into long-term housing. The Torres website states that the shelter “exists to move people forward in their lives. We do this through providing transformational services to people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness.”

The increase in Chico’s unhoused population has been apparent in the years following both the Camp Fire in 2018 and the beginning of COVID-19 in 2020. The Torres shelter hopes to better meet that need by expanding.

Beyond The Orion staff and one other citizen, the council room was empty as Planning Commission Chair Toni Scott called for public comments before the vote, greeted only by silence.

After a lengthy discussion among board members, Scott seemed surprised.

“What speaks volumes to me was what wasn’t said,” Scott said. “This chamber is usually packed. … We do not have opposition.” The commission was silent after that.

When Scott called for the vote, the commission members approved the expansion unanimously with no further comment.

Ava Norgrove can be reached at [email protected]