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Homeless Employment Partnership Between Fresno City, EOC Needs Council Approval

Laura Tsutsui
Valley Public Radio
From left to right: Fresno EOC leader Emilia Reyes, Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria, Council President Miguel Arias and Fresno Mayor Lee Brand. They met outside the Poverello House to announce a partnership between the city and Fresno EOC.

Even as Fresno County is in the middle of the point-in-time count to assess the scope of homelessness, Fresno City leaders announced a pilot program today that will provide part-time employment and support services to a small group of homeless individuals. 

Speaking outside the Poverello House in Downtown Fresno, Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias said this program is different from past efforts to address homelessness.

“No longer should we just simply criminalize homelessness, but we should give them the opportunity that we would want for any of our family members to lift themselves up, to have a job, and at the same time, to have cleaner neighborhoods,” said Arias. 

He noted “cleaner neighborhoods” because the program will employ 15 people to do part-time groundskeeping work for ten hours a week at $13 an hour.

Those who participate in the 17-month pilot will be enrolled in Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission programs that serve homeless families and provide job training

The city plans to spend $100,000 on the employment program, which Fresno EOC has committed to match, dollar for dollar. Other cities have had some success with similar programs, including one in Visalia.

The Council will vote this week on whether to adopt the program.

Laura Tsutsui was a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She joined the station in 2017 as a news intern, and later worked as a production assistant and weekend host. Laura covered local issues ranging from politics to housing, and produced the weekly news program Valley Edition. She left the station in November 2020.