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CHAT Simplicity Village: FAQs

Tiny Homes = Big Benefits
A planned tiny house village for unhoused seniors in Chico, CA

Frequently Asked Questions 

About Simplicity Village

1. The “Build it and they will come” fear is not justified because:

  • a. CHAT's years of local experience and the application / interview process / background check, will guide us to select locals.

  • b. Simplicity Village (SV) will fill up quickly because we're receiving urgent applications for housing continuously. There won't be time for some homeless person in Sacramento to hear about SV and get here and apply before SV is full. Sacramento already has two tiny home villages.

  • c. We're going to charge more than they do at Marysville's 14 Forward (there it's no-charge) and Opportunity Village in Eugene, where they charge $35 per mo. Hope Village in Medford charges $60 per mo. SV is going to charge $165 per month rent (on average) plus SV requires a commitment to work 10 hours a week to maintain the village. If you're homeless looking for a deal SV will be the least attractive.

  • d. SV will NOT SERVE TRANSIENT HOMELESS and is NOT a camp. No unauthorized visitors. SV is a private community for vetted, back ground-checked residents who sign a participation agreement and adhere to an enforced code of conduct, therefore SV cannot be a magnet for  homeless people passing through, looking for shelter. This is a fenced facility, no unauthorized persons coming and going from the facility, SV will function as a closed community. The SV proposal specifically works in opposition to becoming a ‘Magnet Camp’.

 

2. Won't CHAT just be “cherry picking” the best participants?

  • We expect to select a cross section of the homeless population, In an effort to be fair to the applicants and to make the biggest impact downtown and in our community.

 

3. For how long is the Proposal planned?

  • This Proposal is a two year pilot project (a conditional contract). At the end of that time, renewal of the agreement would be contingent on a review and approval by a third party that would have public hearings. See Proposal para. 8

 

4. What are the specific goals?

  • To provide a quality level of housing for 32 to 43 homeless people at a time;

  • To create a continuing transformative and transitional housing program, through a combination of case management, quality housing, skills training and savings accounts, that will allow people to successfully transition back into permanent housing and back into productive roles in society in a way that has buy-in and a commitment from all the participants to be good citizens and good neighbors;

  • To create a village that looks good.  The experience of Dignity Village, Portland Oregon, (with 50 participants) was that in a six year period over 600 people transitioned out of the Village. So while the initial number of people may sound small, SV can become a continuing program for a steady stream of people to get off the street and into regular housing, that in time, can be a significant number.

 

5. How are you going to pay for it?

  • Private donations and participants' rent payments. Based on the experience of other communities we expect to raise $100,000 to $250,000 to launch the project and then the ongoing annual budget will be $50,000 to $65,000 that will be paid for by participants' rent payments, and micro businesses of the village.

 

6. Where will SV be located?

  • Two City Staffers have said SV could go on the unused 2.7 acres of City property on the northwest corner of Humboldt Rd. and Bruce Rd. Considering the magnitude, urgency, expense, and tragedy of this human crisis, this property could be a cheap part of a multi-program approach. The real costs to Enloe ($14.2 million a year), to the economic vitality of our Downtown, law enforcement time and to our parks, dwarf the price of the property. There's property between the fairgrounds and the freeway. There is property just this side of the airport. Property is not the problem. Lack of very low income housing is the problem.

 

7.  Simplicity Village won't get all the people off the street.

  • True, but it will give the houseless cause to think that there is hope.  With hope, you'll have less antisocial behavior.    SV will get 40 people off the street and in 6 months to a year, if we get the performance of other models, most of them will move on to other housing.  And then we will get another 40 people off the street.  This is a structure to create a flow of people.  One study showed that if you give people shelter 88% turn their lives around.

 

8.  What happens when a participant violates an “Agreement”?

  • If a participant is in violation of any of the “Agreements” they get written up by a Village Monitor.  Write ups go before the Village Council.  First confirmed offense (CO) one extra clean up shift.  Second CO, 48 hour expulsion from the village.  Third CO, one year expulsion.  Fourth CO, permanent expulsion.

  • In a situation in which Village Monitors and Village Manager are unable to gain cooperation of a participant, they call our volunteer security staff or a contracted security staff  and/or Crisis Care Advocacy and Triage Group, which specializes in helping people with mental illness through crises.  If they then are still unable to gain cooperation of the participant, the police or other appropriate authorities will be called for assistance.

  • See SV Manual pg 4

 

9.  Detail out how the eviction process works.

 

  • A participant found to be in a fourth violation of an Agreement by the Village Council or by the CHAT Steering Committee, would be subject to a 3 day Village cease and desist notice from a Village Monitor; followed by a final vote of the Village Council.  Under extreme situations (“One and Done” events) participants could be evicted immediately without notice.  See Village Manual Intervention Action Plan

 

10.  How does the City deal with SV, if it doesn't work?

  • Following successful examples in the Pacific Northwest, CHAT and the City will create an MOU, and an agreement based on the SV Management Plan and Participant's Agreements.  If the City finds that CHAT or SV are operating in violation of the terms of the agreement, the City may notify the CHAT BOD with a 30 day notice to correct the violation.  If the violation is not corrected within 30 days the City may find CHAT in violation of the agreement and terminate it, wherein CHAT will evict all the participants and remove all CHAT property from the site within another 30 days.  The CHAT Steering Committee will use an adaptive management approach to address unforeseen problems should they arise.  See City of Chico Proposed Agreement.

11.   Define the problem:

  • Not enough affordable housing, or alternative housing, or very low income housing available.  We have a (NVPO Assoc.) 1.9% vacancy rate.   There are not enough entry level jobs that pay enough (according to the MIT study $19 per hr.) to afford conventional housing ($716 per mo.); very high criteria (750 credit score; first, last and deposit) for typical housing applicants.  Increase in population.  Domestic violence.  Medical bankruptcies.  Butte County “Section Eight” not taking new applicants.  Lack of sufficient mental health services.  These are the problems of which homelessness is a symptom.

 12. Define the need:

  • The need is proven, by the Safe Space Winter Shelter (SSWS) program.  Last winter SSWS provided shelter to at least 50 to 60 homeless people per night, that were beyond the capacity of our current shelter service providers, and SSWS was turning people away.  We have 60 year old citizens sleeping on the sidewalk.  We have a shelter crisis.

13.  How does SV address that need?

  • SV is a plan based on plans that are working successfully in many other towns on the west coast.  It is the most cost-effective way, at about $160 per participant per month, (SV is a fraction of the cost of the existing alternatives), to house the most amount of people, in the least amount of time (within 3 to 18 months).

14.     Explain the specific offsets. 

  • This plan houses as many as 43 people.  It is our hope that it will include some of the downtown homeless population.  According to research, homeless people who get housing are 70% less likely to get arrested and 70% less likely to wind up in an emergency room.  Enloe's rep. said in the last reporting year Enloe served 3,810 homeless people at a cost of $14.2 million.  $14.2 million divided by 3,810 = $3,727 per person.  $3,727 x 43 = $160,261. 70% of which represents a potential annual savings of $112,000 for Enloe.  43 homeless people using our ER 70% less.

 

  • In discussions with Fire Chief Hack, he said probably every one of the homeless people brought to Enloe by ambulance involved a CFD response of at least one vehicle and usually three firemen.  This represents thousands of hours of Chico firefighters time per year.  The costs to our community, because of inaction on this issue, in terms of metal gates, CFD time, CPD time, jail time, court time, and ER time is huge.  

 

  • The cost of Simplicity Village to our City or our County, on the other hand, will be little or no cash outlay, a little City Council or Board time, a little staff time, declaration of a “shelter crisis”, and a lease agreement on 2 acres of flat unused property.  Once SV is up and running the rents paid will cover the cost.  It pays for itself!

 

15. How do I donate?

  • Mail your tax-deductible donation to CHAT Simplicity Village, P.O.Box 4868, Chico, CA 95927   or https://bit.ly/chatdonate

 

16. After we declare a shelter crisis how can we be sure that it won't create a problem with out-of-control sub-standard housing popping up all over the place?

  • The shelter crisis declaration will apply only to Simplicity Village so the special circumstances of it are not for others.


 

17.  How will SV help participants get back into permanent housing?

  • Part of each participant's rent will go into a savings account for them to withdraw when they are ready to move out of SV and into other housing. This account will build and build and the only way participants will be able to access it is when they move out into other housing. So that will create an incentive to make progress on their life plan toward independent living.

CHAT's   Answers    6/15/17   to  the DCBA / BC&S members questions from their 3/27/17 meeting on the Simplicity Village (SV) proposal.

 

1.   Define  “participants”:  

 

Adults living at the Village participating in the CHAT program, Simplicity Village, and as such they have no legal, tenant or resident standing or any implied contract with CHAT or the City.  They are “at will” participants.     This paragraph has been added to the Participant / Community Agreement.

 

2.   What happens when a participant violates an “Agreement”?

 

  If a participant is in violation of any of the “Agreements” they get written up by a Village Monitor.  Write ups go before the Village Council.  First confirmed offense (CO) one extra clean up shift.  Second CO, 48 hour expulsion from the village.  Third CO, one year expulsion.  Fourth CO, permanent expulsion.

In a situation in which Village Monitors and Village Manager are unable to gain cooperation of a participant, they call our volunteer security staff and/or Crisis Care Advocacy and Triage Group, which specializes in helping people with mental illness through crises.  If they then are still unable to gain cooperation of the participant, the police or other appropriate authorities will be called for assistance.  See SV Manual pg 4

 

3.  Detail out how the eviction process works.    

 

A participant found to be in a fourth violation of an Agreement by the Village Council or by the CHAT Steering Committee, would be subject to a 3 day Village cease and desist notice from a Village Monitor; followed by a final vote of the Village Council.  Under extreme situations (“One and Done” events) participants could be evicted immediately without notice.  See Village Manual Intervention Action Plan

 

4.  How does the City deal with SV, if it doesn't work?  

 

Following successful examples in the Pacific Northwest, CHAT and the City will create an MOU, and an agreement based on the SV Management Plan and Participant's Agreements.  If the City finds that CHAT or SV are operating in violation of the terms of the agreement, the City may notify the CHAT BOD with a 30 day notice to correct the violation.  If the violation is not corrected within 30 days the City may find CHAT in violation of the agreement and terminate it, wherein CHAT will evict all the participants and remove all CHAT property from the site within another 30 days.  The CHAT Steering Committee will use an adaptive management approach to address unforeseen problems should they arise.   See City of Chico Proposed Agreement

 

5.  For how long is the Proposal planned?  

 

This Proposal is for a two year pilot project.  At the end of that time, renewal of the use permit would be contingent on a review and approval by a third party that would have public hearings.  See Proposal para. 8  

 

 

6. What are the specific goals?

 

To provide a quality level of housing for 22 to 43 homeless people at a time; To create a continuing transformative and transitional housing program, through a combination of case management, quality housing, skills training and savings accounts, that will allow people to successfully transition back into permanent housing and back into productive roles in society in a way that has buy-in and a commitment from all the participants to be good citizens and good neighbors.

The experience of Dignity Village was that in a six year period 700 people transitioned through the Village. So while the initial number of people sounds small, SV can become a vehicle for a steady stream of people to get off the street and into regular housing, that in time, can be a significant number.

The Simplicity Village (SV) model follows the successful examples of other villages in that it will “Promote housing that is affordable to low incomes”, Goal H.2 of the Chico General Plan. SV will increase our public safety by reducing the demands on our Police Dept. and our emergency services, by reducing the number of homeless people on our City streets. SV will improve our environment by housing people that might otherwise be contributing to the voluminous and hazardous amounts of trash in our parks and green ways.

 

7.   Define the problem:  

 

Not enough affordable housing, or alternative housing, or very low income housing available.  We have a (NVPO Assoc.) 1.9% vacancy rate.   There are not enough entry level jobs that pay enough (according to the MIT study $19 per hr.) to afford conventional housing ($716 per mo.); very high criteria (750 credit score; first, last and deposit) for typical housing applicants.  Increase in population.  Domestic violence.  Medical bankruptcies.  Butte County “Section Eight” not taking new applicants.  Lack of sufficient mental health services.  These are the problems of which homelessness is a symptom.    

 

8.   Define the need:  

 

The need is proven, by the Safe Space Winter Shelter (SSWS) program.  Last winter SSWS provided shelter to at least 50 to 60 homeless people per night, that were beyond the capacity of our current shelter service providers, and SSWS was turning people away.  We have 60 year old citizens sleeping on the sidewalk.  We have a shelter crisis. 

9. How does SV address that need?  

 

SV is a plan based on plans that are working successfully in many other towns on the west coast.  It is the most cost-effective way, at $151 per participant per month, (SV is a fraction of the cost of the existing alternatives), to house the most amount of people, in the least amount of time (within 3 to 18 months).

10.   Explain the specific offsets.  

 

This plan houses as many as 43 people.  It is our hope that it will include some of the downtown homeless population.  According to research, homeless people who get housing are 70% less likely to get arrested and 70% less likely to wind up in an emergency room.  Enloe's rep. said in the last reporting year Enloe served 3,810 homeless people at a cost of $14.2 million.  $14.2 million divided by 3,810 = $3,727 per person.  $3,727 x 43 = $160,261. 70% of which represents a potential annual savings of $112,000 for Enloe.  43 homeless people using our ER 70% less.

 

In discussions with Fire Chief Hack, he said probably every one of the homeless people brought to Enloe by ambulance involved a CFD response of at least one vehicle and usually three firemen.  This represents thousands of hours of Chico firefighters time per year.  The costs to our community, because of inaction on this issue, in terms of metal gates, CFD time, CPD time, jail time, court time, and ER time is huge.  

 

The cost of Simplicity Village to our City or our County, on the other hand, will be little or no cash outlay, a little City Council or Board time, a little staff time, declaration of a “shelter crisis”, and a lease agreement on 2 acres of flat unused property.  Once SV is up and running the rents paid will cover the cost.  It pays for itself!

 

11. How can you be sure you won't be attracting more homeless people to this area by creating Simplicity Village?

The Simplicity Village proposal is to shelter 43 participants.  The 2017 Homeless Point in Time Census Report (PIT) contacted over 400 people who reported sleeping unsheltered in Chico, (pg. 11 PIT).  Our existing unmet need is so urgent and great that the vacancies will be filled so quickly there won't be the time to be "attracting more homeless people".  Additionally, the participants will be chosen by referrals from our existing local service providers that have experience with the people and know the locals. And CHAT has their own knowledge of the local homeless population.  All applicants will get a background check, as well as going through an interview process that will include a skills inventory and work history questions that will provide clues to their recent areas of residence.   We will not be advertising the Village. These vacancies will be available so briefly only applicants in our area will have quick enough response time to be able to take advantage of it.   Other surrounding towns (Marysville, Sacramento, Medford, Portland, Oakland, Eugene, Santa Rosa, San Jose, Morro Bay, Berkeley and Cotati among others) are already doing programs similar to Simplicity Village, so the fact that one more city is launching a similar project will not be a factor in attracting more homeless people to Chico.

 

12.  How do I donate?  

https://bit.ly/chatdonate

 

13. After we declare a shelter crisis how can we be sure that won't create a problem with out-of-control sub-standard housing popping up all over the place?

The situation is already out-of-control. Any situation will have problems to deal with. And which set of problems would you prefer to deal with, more and more raggedy people in the streets and our parks with more and more encampments becoming more and more hazardous with needles and feces all over the place or some sub-standard houses.


 

14.  How will SV help participants get back into permanent housing?

Part of each participant's rent will go into a savings account for them to withdraw when they are ready to move out of SV and into permanent housing. This account will build and build and the only way participants will be able to access it is when they move into permanent housing. So that will create an incentive to make progress on their life plan toward independent living.

 

15.  How will you finance SV?

Based on what happened in Eugene and Marysville we expect to finance the initial costs of launching SV with public donations, business partnerships, sponsorships, in-kind donations and grants.  Once SV is up and running it will pay for itself with the rents, and microbusinesses (i.e. car washes, vegetable sales, recycling, auto detailing, fire wood sales, craigslist resales of donated items and shed building.