Chico Council Approves Mental Health Counselors To Police Department, Low-Income Housing Project

Feb 7, 2018

Last night the Chico City Council approved a deal assigning county mental health counselors to the police department, advanced a low-income housing project and moved forward with plan to relocate a major provider of homeless services.

Following negotiations with Butte County officials, the council approved a plan to assign two mental health counselors to the Chico police, with the aim of responding to calls involving persons suffering a mental break.

Michael O’Brien is chief of police.

“In 2017 we responded to over 1,500 calls for service for someone who had some type of mental health crisis,” he said. “That’s a lot of calls for service in one year.”

That works out to just more than four a day. O’Brien said he’d been pondering how better to respond to such calls since he became police chief two and a half years ago. In two separate cases, Chico police shot and killed two men suffering violent delusions in recent years.

O’Brien said the mental health crisis team will not solve every problem. A member of the team will be available between 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

In other council action, an agreement with The Jesus Center to cooperate on developing a relocation plan moved forward unanimously. The center provides homeless services. Officials are working to move the center to a site near the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds.

The council also unanimously approved a proposal to repurpose land purchased for a future park into a low-income housing development. City Housing Manager Marie Demers said there’s tremendous need for affordable housing.

“Affordable rent for a person living on the average Social Security check is no more than $408,” she said.

The development, adjacent to Marsh Junior High School, near the intersection of Humboldt Road and Notre Dame Boulevard would provide 80 housing units for very low-income senior citizens and the developmentally disabled.