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Fresno Homeless Population Grows

Jun 9, 2016

After years of declines, Fresno has seen an increase in its homeless population. City leaders think there may be an unexpected reason for the rise.

According to the city’s official homeless counts, over the last 8 years there has been nearly a 50% decline in Fresno’s homeless population. But last year the number of people living on the street actually increased over the previous year, for the first time since 2011.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says one explanation might be Prop 47, leaving more people on the street who would otherwise be in jail…

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says the reason could be that prop 47 is leaving more people on the street who would otherwise be in jail.

“Otherwise, would be incarcerated for things today that would be considered minor that used to be considered more serious offenses. Those are folks who are on the streets today. That just means we have to take a new approach to dealing with this population,” Swearengin says.

The mayor does say this is an issue happening all over California, not just in Fresno.

Swearengin says even with the increase the city is aiming to eliminate chronic homelessness in the next three years. To achieve this, Swearengin says the plan is to continue to increase spending on services and dispatching specialized homeless outreach teams.

However, advocates for the homeless question the accuracy of the numbers saying homeless people are still out there but are harder to count since the city broke up the homeless several encampments.