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PRESS RELEASE: Settlement in Warren v. Chico – City to build individual shelters, unhoused residents won’t be arrested or cited for sleeping outside when shelter is unavailable



(Chico, CA) Today, Judge Morrison England of the District Court in Sacramento approved the settlement reached between Plaintiffs, eight unhoused Chico residents, and the City of Chico in Warren, et al. v. City of Chico, et al.

Under the settlement, the City agrees to increase shelter options for homeless Chico residents by building the City’s first non-congregate shelter site at the former BMX location at 2352 Dr Martin Luther King Jr Pkwy. There will be 177 individual Pallet Shelters, each of which will have a locking door, electricity, heat, and air conditioning. The City will provide meals, showers, laundry, and other services at the shelter site. The City will also implement a number of other important changes in how it enforces its sleeping and camping ordinances to safeguard the constitutional rights of unhoused community members.

“As a woman living outside since losing my home over three years ago in the Camp Fire, I have not been able to sleep at night because I feared for my safety and because of the cold,” said Plaintiff Tona Peterson. “I and many others living outside will now have a private space with a locking door and heat. I’ll be able to get more things done each day and work with the on-site services. We all will.”

Plaintiffs filed the lawsuit on April 8, 2021 and Judge England enjoined the City from enforcing its sleeping and camping ordinances in the time since April 11, 2021. Judge England’s settlement order dissolves the preliminary injunction, but prevents any enforcement of the ordinances until the new shelter opens.

“This settlement includes common sense solutions that many unhoused and housed Chico community members have pushed for as the City’s affordable housing crisis has worsened, pushing more and more people outside” said Sarah Steinheimer with Legal Services of Northern California’s Sacramento office and lead counsel for Plaintiffs.

Once the shelter opens, the City may enforce its sleeping and camping ordinances but only when there is sufficient shelter for everyone sleeping on the designated public property where it plans to enforce its ordinances.

“Today’s settlement and order reaffirms the rights and dignity of Chico’s unhoused community members who are often targeted for just trying to survive outside, even though there is not sufficient available housing or even temporary shelter,” said Cory Turner of Legal Services of Northern California’s Chico office and counsel for the Plaintiffs.

The order signed by Judge England puts an end to the lawsuit, but the Court retains jurisdiction to enforce the settlement for five years.

Robert Newman with the Western Center on Law & Poverty and co-counsel for the Plaintiffs additionally observes, “Governor Newsom’s new budget proposes billions of additional dollars for people experiencing homelessness. The City of Chico should take advantage of that opportunity to provide desperately needed housing for its residents.”