The North Valley Community Foundation in Chico, California, is returning a $1 million Walmart Foundation grant intended to help homeless people affected by the 2018 Camp Fire and is encouraging the foundation to work directly with "local service providers" to determine next steps, the Chico Enterprise-Record reports.
In announcing the grant last November, the Walmart Foundation said the funds would "help address the increased needs of the local homeless population affected by the Camp Fire," many of whom were living in the parking lot of a Walmart in Chico, with support going to "organizations like the Jesus Center, Torres Community Shelter, [and] Safe Space Winter Shelter." Although the Jesus Center and Safe Space Winter Shelter initially joined the effort to build a proposed low-barrier shelter, the Jesus Center withdrew following opposition from the community, saying it would instead focus on its own long-term homeless project.
According to the Enterprise-Record, NVCF director of recovery and response Jovanni Tricerri last week informed Safe Space Winter Shelter president Angela McLaughlin in an email that "[a]t this point, NVCF has removed itself as the intermediary to focus on issues directly related to Camp Fire relief and recovery." Tricerri added that NVCF was stepping aside so local service providers could "work in a way that aligns with Walmart Foundation’s goals and values in addressing the challenges around homelessness."
McLaughlin told the Enterprise-Record that Safe Space Winter Shelter would continue with its goal of opening the shelter and had arranged to discuss the matter with the Walmart Foundation. "We are looking forward to the opportunity to continue to work directly with Walmart on this critical community initiative and are appreciative of their support," said McLaughlin.