Fresno County Grand Jury Report Calls for Coordination Among Groups Tackling Homelessness

Nov 5, 2020

Street2Home was announced in 2018 as an initiative by the city and county of Fresno to coordinate homelessness mitigation across organizations. But in a report released Monday, the Fresno County Grand Jury found it doesn’t have a staff, or board yet. 

H. Spees, director of strategic initiatives for Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, says that’s true, but work is getting done.  

“Although Street2Home has not been implemented in name, it’s been field tested and a virtual collective impact structure was formed, and it’s really paid off,” said Spees. The structure has been virtual because it came together after the pandemic hit.

COVID-19 has delayed some efforts, he says. Still, CARES Act funding has helped the city make headway in developing low-income housing.

“When COVID hit we were able to take the millions of dollars that are coming our way to put together a community-wide, COVID-19 homeless response that has been incredibly effective,” said Spees. This has included purchasing three hotels for low-income housing, and setting up other emergency beds for people in need of shelter.

The Grand Jury also recommended the Fresno Madera Continuum of Care update its website and make its meetings more accessible. Laura Moreno is chair of the continuum, and a program manager at the Fresno County Department of Social Services. 

 

“I recognize that there is, for example, a lack of communication,” said Moreno. Many people on the board of the Continuum of Care work or volunteer as service providers. Moreno said that work takes up so much time, there isn’t much time left to tell others about it.

“The truth is that ten years ago, nobody wanted to know about [homelessness], they just wanted it solved,” said Moreno. “So the wanting to know more about how it’s solved is recent, probably within the last five years.”

With the Grand Jury’s recommendation in mind, Moreno says the Fresno Madera Continuum of Care recently updated its website and is making plans to ensure it stays current.