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Redding Mayor Envisions Forcing Homeless People To Stay In Temporary Shelter

Wikimedia Commons

Camping in public spaces is already illegal within the city of Redding. The city’s mayor wants to further restrict people from sleeping in the streets by requiring them to stay at a shelter.

Mayor Julie Winter says Redding is overwhelmed with people camping in public spaces and along the Sacramento River, which is why she’d like the city to establish a new shelter that forces homeless people to stay there.

“That might be a low-security facility, but it’s not a facility you could just leave because you wanted to,” Winter says. “You need to get clean, you need to get sober, you need to demonstrate self-sufficiency, and once you do that you’re free to go.”

Winter drafted a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking that he declare a state of emergency in Redding because of homelessness. The declaration could free up state funds that are typically reserved for natural disasters such as wildfires. Winter says there are about 3,000 homeless people in Shasta County.

In the letter, Winter requests Newsom allow Redding to take conservatorship of homeless people’s finances if they’re deemed mentally unfit to manage their lives.

“I think it’s important that we step up and come up with some real solutions that provide both a carrot — we want to help you — but there’s also a stick associated with that,” Winter says. “If you don’t want to get help, there are repercussions.”

Winter envisions that people will have to stay at this shelter for up to 90 days.

The state of emergency declaration could potentially freeze regulatory hurdles that typically slow down housing developments.

The Redding City Council voted to send Winter's letter to Newsom at its Tuesday night meeting.

April Ehrlich is an editor and reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Previously, she was a news host and reporter at Jefferson Public Radio.