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Chico Businesses Struggle to Deal With Panhandling Issue

By Jerry Olenyn, jolenyn@krcrtv.com
Published On: Feb 07 2013 09:45:56 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 07 2013 10:47:18 AM CST
Chico panhandling pic
CHICO, Calif. -

The homeless problem has hit a boiling point in Chico, especially the downtown area.  Their presence is seen as a blight to some, and a source of financial pain for nearby businesses.

Katie Simmons of the Chico Chamber of Commerce is trying to create the best possible business environment for its members.

She's rallying business owners, shelters, law enforcement, and churches along with county and city leaders.  All the groups are seeing the homeless problem on their front door step.

Many ideas are being floated for an anti-panhandling campaign like the one in Redding that encourages people to stop giving handouts to panhandlers.  

Brad Montgomery, who runs the Torres Shelter, said this type of giving often goes for cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.  He suggests it's better to give money to organizations like the Torres Shelter or the Jesus Center, which help the needy free themselves from addiction and get them back on their feet.

But for businesses, time isn't on their side.  They don't want to end up an empty storefront, and believe transients are keeping customers away.