CHICO, Calif. - According to the 2017 Homeless Point in Time Census and Survey Report, nearly 2,000 people are homeless in Butte County, a 76 percent increase since 2015. 24 percent of those people admitted to using drugs and another 17 percent said they abuse alcohol.
Most Butte County shelters only cater to sober members of the homeless community stating they want to create a safe place for families. This leaves those who are battling with addiction stuck on the street but one Butte County shelter is now hoping to change that.
The Torres Shelter and their Harm Reduction Program has created a positive experience by helping the homeless get sober.
"It allows individuals to come in, who in the the past we would have excluded because they have been drinking or they have been high on some sort of drug," said Bill Slack, the Torres Shelter Supervisor. "There was a lot of concern about you know 'well you're bringing in somebody who is actively using meth or somebody who has just been drinking all day and there's going to problems but there hasn't been."
Slack said they separate the people who are using from the people who are sober.
"The biggest thing that didn't really surprise the staff, but surprises most people, is that we've never had to call the police and there's never been any violence," said Slack.
The County does have outreach counselors for those looking to get help but 22 percent of people who complete treatment say they have nowhere to go which can make it hard to convince someone to get help.