Chico's Refugee Crisis is a Warning About the Future of Climate Change

In 2017, Butte County leaders declared a “shelter crisis.” Housing was growing more scarce and unaffordable in the county, especially in the college town of Chico. 

Then came the Camp Fire in November 2018. It destroyed the nearby town of Paradise and displaced 50,000 people. Many of them fled to Chico, turning a housing crisis into a full-fledged emergency. As resources poured in for fire victims, people say transients from elsewhere also trickled in, further straining housing and services.

Over 1,000 affordable housing units are slated for construction in Chico to mitigate soaring home prices. In the meantime, many people resort to living in their cars. Some of them haven’t had permanent housing since the fire. 

The situation in Chico is a reminder that almost no one will escape the climate crisis unscathed. As extreme weather fuels more California wildfires, even towns that aren’t directly touched by natural disasters will bear the burden of refugees seeking a place to lay their heads.

Read more about Chico’s housing crisis here.