Time Running Out for Camp Fire Survivors Staying at Chico Shelter

CHICO -- More than two months after the Camp Fire destroyed parts of Butte County, some survivors are still looking for a place to call home.

Hundreds of people are staying in an American Red Cross shelter in Chico, but it’s set to close at the end of the month.

"We came here just to get grounded for a minute," fire survivor Cara Gray said.

The shelter at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds is the closest Gray could get to comfort -- but now that's in jeopardy.

"Where are we going to go? I couldn’t tell you," Gray said. "I really don’t know."

The American Red Cross' temporary contract with the fairgrounds expires Jan. 31.

Roughly 600 people are still staying there and are now searching for a place to go.

"A lot of them have young children. Even with families with pets. Not everybody takes pets," Red Cross caseworker Marcia Stowers said. "So it’s a challenge trying to get something that will accommodate all that."

Stowers is working with families on a case-by-case basis, trying to find them more permanent shelter moving forward.

"The challenge is housing right now, especially locally. With all the people out of housing, they are filling up quickly. And not just apartments and that but even just somewhere to park their RV or mobile home or something that they get," Stowers said.

And many just don’t have the financial resources, especially after their jobs were destroyed in the fire.

“That’s why we meet one-on-one because everybody has different needs and different priorities. So our caseworkers work with them to try to figure out what they need and what their barriers are to being able to move forward," Red Cross spokeswoman Dianna Van Horn said.

As for Gray, she’s hoping the Red Cross will help her find somewhere else to go, praying fire survivors like her won’t become the new face of homelessness.

"They think there’s a problem with the homeless population now," she said. "You ain’t seen nothing yet."

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