Safe Space to close three weeks early, due to church overcrowding

    The Pleasant Valley Baptist Church gym, one of Safe Space's winter shelters. <p>{/p}

    Safe Space, a Chico organization focused on sheltering homeless people during the winter, will be closing three weeks early, this year.

    Safe Space is a non-profit organization, run by volunteers. They're entirely based in Chico and they're usually open until mid-March. But because of the Camp Fire, the churches they use to shelter the homeless are full of fire survivors, who lost their homes.

    There were dozens of people in the gym, behind the Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, on Thursday night, sheltering from the cold. Unfortunately, Saturday night will be the last time this year they'll be able to go there, to sleep.

    Rick Narad, a shelter operations manager for Safe Space, tried to find a way to keep the program going.

    "We have talked to many churches and other buildings, in Chico. We've talked to the churches that have hosted, to see if they could do another week. And at this point, we've totally struck out. There is no other building available to us," Narad said.

    When asked about the Chico warming center, Narad said he believes it will save lives. But he pointed out that unlike the warming center, Safe Space shelters open before the temperatures drop to freezing. He said their goal is to house as many people as possible, every night.

    Safe Space will return next year, hopefully with more room available in local churches.

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