As cold weather approaches, our volunteers are organizing to get supplies to the houseless population within our community. On November 17, we’d like to bring out as many hats, gloves, socks, pocket warmers and other similar items to provide people a few of the things they’ll need in order to keep warm this winter. To those with a roof over their heads, Chico winters are generally mild, but each year we still have deaths due to exposure. Contributing to this Mutual Aid campaign will mean providing resources to our community members as Chico City Council becomes increasingly hostile to our homeless residents that are trying to shelter in place during the ongoing pandemic.
Before Governor Newsom announced the 'stay at home' order on March 19th, the Chico DSA Pandemic Mutual Aid Working Group was already delivering groceries, supplies, and prescriptions to high-risk folks who were advised not to leave the house during this pandemic. Since then, our daily grocery delivery service has expanded to supporting another high risk group: the unhoused population of Chico. For unhoused folks the stay at home order was perplexing. They had no legally recognized home to stay in and acquiring daily necessities required them to trek across town to eat at the Jesus Center or to use a bathroom. Often with weakened immune systems and no access to medical care, many unhoused people are vulnerable themselves and also at risk of becoming a vector for the spread of the illness.
Since April 1st our street outreach teams have, in collaboration with True North Housing Alliance, Safe Space, Northern Valley Harm Reduction Coalition, and North Valley Mutual Aid, distributed more than 1,000 meals, hundreds of trash bags, tents, and other supplies to over one hundred unique houseless Chicoans. During this period, the City Council gave clear direction to the Police Department to comply with CDC guidelines and not evict encampments with fewer than 10 people. This change allows unhoused Chicoans the legal ability to safely shelter in place, but without support like trash pickups, food deliveries and camp supplies they do not have a realistic way to actually accomplish this. While we recognize that this change is not a permanent solution, ‘musical chairs’ — the longstanding policy where encampments are swept and belongings trashed with the displaced people only relocating to another site and acquiring possessions all over again — is not a solution at all. While parks and greenways are the only permitted options for our unhoused neighbors, we’re committed to supporting them in having the most decent and sustainable encampments possible. By helping foster a sense of community and shared ownership of these spaces we intend to empower camp residents with a rare sense of stability in their living situation. We believe that this will then allow them the opportunity to further improve their conditions. We hope that this long-term goal can be accomplished alongside the more urgent need for a safe method of shelter in place for the unhoused in Chico.
Thus far we have been able to provide support to unhoused Chicoans thanks to donations from the community and non-profit organizations. We are now hoping to both expand the support we're able to provide to the unhoused community while also continuing our existing support operations. Because of this we are requesting your support in this effort. Your donations would go towards:
* Camp cleanliness supplies (trash bins, trash bags, dump runs, trash pickers)
* Shelter supplies (food, water, tents, tarps, blankets)
* Health and hygiene supplies (masks for residents, first aid kits, medicine, wet wipes, biodegradable soap)
The cleanliness supplies we are providing are intended to allow camp residents to keep their spaces tidy and collect litter on their own. With regular dump runs staffed by Mutual Aid volunteers, Chico Housing Action Team, Butte Environmental Council, and Sunrise Chico trash can be prevented from piling up in these areas and becoming a health and environmental hazard. With tents, tarps and blankets camp residents can stay in place during rain and cold nights. With food and water camp residents will no longer be required to leave their shelter regularly in order to obtain adequate nutrition.
Mutual aid can help us get through this together. Help us so we can help each other.
In solidarity, Chico DSA Mutual Aid
- Milo Obrzut
- Elaine Gray
- Jean Andrews
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