Chico, Calif. -- On Tuesday several Chico community groups protested outside of the Chico City Council Chambers.
Chico Friends on the Street and Mobilize Chico are two of the groups that protested several proposed ordinances they say are aimed at criminalizing homelessness in the city.
Members say some of these proposed ordinances are immoral and unethical because they target the homeless and will make trying to survive on the streets a crime.
“So you have four issues there, all of them pointed at trying to make life in the public space more difficult for people,” said Chico Friends on the Street member Patrick Newman.
The group is a public space advocacy group, and he says people are on the street because the system has failed them. He says lack of affordable housing is the biggest culprit.
“90% of homelessness would go away if there was affordable housing. It does everywhere in the world,” he said.
He says until then, we have to figure out how to deal with the problem humanely, and not simply make it harder for those people to live on the streets, which is why his group is protesting several proposals put forth by councilmember Andrew Coolidge.
“To me, it's more important to look at all of these people who are already suffering, make space for them, and allow them to live in our community as friends, as people that we can ally with.”
He says considering the shopping cart ordinance, closure times for city parks, and the controversial sit & lie ordinance – which says people can’t be on sidewalks or anywhere where they would obstruct public traffic – are simply punishing people living in the public space; they’re criminalizing homelessness, and making those people's lives more difficult doesn't do anybody any good.
“I can spend money in the downtown myself because I have money in my pocket, so I can go and sit in any cafe or restaurant that I want to. Better to think about people's human rights first, in other words, are we going to accommodate them.”
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