homeless

Fresno County officials announced the results from January’s homeless point-in-time count Wednesday, including a significant rise in unhoused individuals. 

This year’s annual point-in-time count found 3,251 people experiencing homelessness throughout Fresno County. That’s about a 50 percent increase from 2019, when the number of people counted was 2,131. However, more people than usual were counted in shelters.

 

 

April Imboden knows many places where people who are experiencing homelessness live in Fresno. On this day, she’s parked her car in an alley near Fruit and Dakota. 

“Do you want some pizza? Do you want a piece of pizza?” she yells from her car. 

She has a couple of boxes she’s purchased from Little Caesars, and she’s passing out slices to folks who might be hungry. 

“What’s your name?” she asks one man. “Ronald,” he says. 

Lisa Blecker, Kristen Beall Watson and Laura Moreno

COVID-19 is disproportionately hurting vulnerable communities like seniors, ag workers and the homeless. To learn about efforts to protect these at-risk populations, FM89's Kathleen Schock spoke with Lisa Blecker, pesticide safety education program coordinator for the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Laura Moreno, chair of the Fresno Madera Continuum of Care, and Kristen Beall Watson, CEO of the Kern Community Foundation.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

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.

Kathleen Schock / Valley Public Radio

Governor Gavin Newsom stopped in Fresno on Wednesday to promote his proposed $1.4 billion plan to tackle homelessness, which includes $11.5 million in emergency grants for Fresno County. 

Speaking at a mental health crisis facility in Southeast Fresno, Newsom said the grants, to be disbursed within the next few weeks, are intended to go toward financial assistance for housing as well as emergency trailers and tents.

Courtesy of Adrianne Hillman / Salt + Light Works

In most cities, people who live on the streets can find some relief staying for a night or two at a shelter. But in 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that Tulare and Kings counties have the highest rate of unsheltered, chronically homeless individuals for counties of their kind in the nation. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

One perception of homeless individuals might be that they’re alone, dealing with substance abuse or mental illness. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes a homeless person has family nearby, and just a strained relationship.  We reported on a Fresno County program that helps house parents and children, usually after they’ve been separated by the courts. This week, we meet one parent who used that emergency housing. Her name is Christina Montalvo, and she spent some time on the streets alone, while her kids lived with family.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

About a quarter of the nation’s homeless population live in California with most of them concentrated in the state’s larger cities, including Fresno. Governor Brown has responded in his latest budget by including $500 million in grants for cities to address homelessness. Fresno Mayor Lee Brand went to Sacramento to lobby in support of this funding. Despite years of work on the problem, the city’s homeless population is still significant. Some have said in recent times that Fresno has spent too much time and efforts criminalizing homelessness, referencing the so-called camping ban.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

With new data that suggests Fresno’s homeless population is growing, leading homeless service providers are now admitting that the City of Fresno will not meet its deadline of December 31st to end ‘functional homelessness’ in the city. At the same time, the city is moving ahead with a plan to ban public camping in the city, a move drawing both praise and criticism from those who work with homeless residents. Together, the two issues have renewed the question of how can Fresno solve this decades-old problem once and for all.

Steve Brandau - Facebook

A Fresno City Councilmember has a new idea on dealing with the city’s homeless population – a law that would ban camping in the city. Councilmember Steve Brandau is set to take the proposed ordinance before the city council Thursday August 17th. If adopted, the law would ban camping on both public and private property in the city.

Brandau says he’s been getting complaints for months from constituents about people camping in the cooking, bathing and even defecating in public.

Merced Rescue Mission / http://www.mercedrescuemission.org/about-us

Homelessness is a big problem throughout the valley. It’s not just in large cities like Bakersfield and Fresno though. Smaller towns and rural counties are facing their own challenges in serving those in need with food, shelter and often mental health and substance abuse treatment. But what happens when finding a place to do all those things runs into community opposition?

Google Street View / Google

EDITORS'S NOTE: As of Monday October 10, 2016 the hot meals program has reopened at a new location.

Original Post: 

The Merced County Rescue Mission is looking for a new home for its hot meals program.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin is flatly rejecting the concept of city-sanctioned homeless encampments. 

The mayor is responding to that suggestion from a candidate seeking to replace her.

Earlier this week on Valley Public Radio, Fresno County Supervisor and mayoral candidate Henry Perea suggested that if elected, he would be open to the concept of city-sanctioned homeless encampments.

Yellowfeather Noriega / http://survivingfresno.blogspot.com/

Fresno mayoral candidate and current Fresno County Supervisor Henry R. Perea supports the idea of city sanctioned encampments for Fresno’s homeless population. 

Speaking on Valley Public Radio’s Valley Edition, Perea says city and county officials have been making progress in getting many homeless people into housing. But he adds the problem of people living on the streets has become more visible since the city closed down several illegal downtown encampments in 2013. Perea says legalized encampments should be an option. 

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we hear from Ben Bergman, with partner station KPCC in Pasadena, in a series called "The Future of Water." Bergman reports from Madera where he speaks with farmers about where water will come from 25 years from now.

According to Fresno City Council Member Clint Olivier, the city faces an existential threat from "vagrants" who have overrun parks, stores and neighborhoods. In an op-ed column in the Fresno Bee, Olivier calls for a new push from city hall on the issue. 

Kern County Homeless Collaborative Faces of Homelessness Facebook Page

On Wednesday, crews from the City of Bakersfield closed down a homeless encampment on South Union Avenue that many residents had called home for years. In recent months the area had become a growing concern for officials responsible for enforcing city codes. Homeless advocates estimate that at the close, around 24 people lived in the encampment. Officials estimate that all but five found some sort of housing, either through shelters, programs or with family members.  

Brittani Fanciullo

There's a new documentary about homelessness in Fresno. "Our Lives: Surviving the Streets of Fresno" not only tells the stories of 10 people directly affected by homelessness, it was shot by them. 

Lisa Lindsay joined Valley Edition host Joe Moore for an interview  about the documentary. She directed the film and also is a supervising librarian for the Fresno County Public Library.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Edition

This week on Valley Edition we talk with Assemblyman Henry T. Perea on why he thinks California's cap and trade system will hurt the Valley. We also speak with Visalia Times Delta Editor Melinda Morales about homelessness in Visalia and why she thinks Peter Frampton canceled a recent show in one of the cities oldest and most controversial parks. 

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