Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Homelessness

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.

On this week’s Valley Edition, we learn how Fresno State students are leaving their mark at one of the top scientific institutions in Europe. We also continue our look at the issue of homelessness with a profile of a Fresno mom who was living on the streets, and is now working to turn her life around. Plus we look back at what’s happened to the unaccompanied minors who sought refuge in this country, including one local man who is now an adult, and seeking permanent residency status.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

We’ve reported on homelessness, but what about families who are on the brink? For some of them, finding stable housing is a way to move their lives forward after drug rehabilitation, or court-mandated separation from their kids. With recent approval to relocate, one Fresno County program is trying to make it easier for those families to find housing.

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.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

When people think of homelessness, they often think of big cities like Fresno or Bakersfield. But in the mountains of Madera County it's a lingering problem. And as the short-term rental market grows, some fear the housing shortage in the communities just outside Yosemite will only get worse. 

Serenity Village is a seven-unit affordable apartment complex in Oakhurst targeted at helping homeless people get back on their feet.

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.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition our team reports on how farmers are using robots on the farm. We also here from Fresno City Council Member Steve Brandau about his proposal to ban camping in the city to discourage homelessness. We also hear from Michael Kodas with the The Center for Environmental Journalism about his book "Megafire: The Race to Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame" coming out later this month.

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…

Courtsey of Mike Rhodes

Mike Rhodes has covered homelessness in Fresno for over a decade. He’s witnessed police taunt  homeless people, he’s called out government officials for their perspectives on those underserved and most recently he wrote a book combining those experiences.

Rhodes is a community activist and former editor of the Community Alliance newspaper. He joined Valley Edition Tuesday April 5 to talk about his book “Dispatches from the War Zone.” To listen to the interview click play above. 

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Thursday is the final day of annual count of the 2016 homeless people in Fresno. City leaders have extolled the progress in reducing the number homeless people while at the same time defending its method of counting the homeless population.

Last year’s count showed a dramatic decline in Fresno’s homeless population.

Advocates criticized the report because it followed the city breaking up homeless encampments and therefore they claim it did not count a sizable portion of the population.

Fresno leaders say the homeless population in Fresno and Madera Counties has declined by 53-percent since 2013.

The newest count released Monday found almost 1,200 unsheltered homeless people compared to more than 2,500 two years ago.

Preston Price with the Fresno Housing Authority says a new focus on providing housing first is driving the rate down.

“The housing first model, which has a higher success rate, says let’s get a person into housing and bring the services they need to them. And that has a higher success rate,” Price said.

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 Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we discuss drought, almonds and much more. The program begins with a piece by KVPR Reporter Jeffrey Hess on how the implementation of high speed rail in California is affecting businesses and homeowners in Central California. 

Ezra David Romero

This week on Valley Edition FM89's Diana Aguilera reports on one Fresno group's vision to tackle homelessness by creating eco-friendly shelters. John Lindt, with Sierra2theSea.net, joins the program for a conversation about the possibility of a new Central California town called Quay Valley that may have a hyper loop. 

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Fresno’s homeless problem has been at the forefront of many debates. But there’s one group in town that’s created a new model for homeless housing. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports on the expansion of a housing project on Dakota Avenue.

Over a year ago Nancy Holmes had nowhere to go after she was evicted from a homeless encampment in downtown Fresno. Holmes ended up on a dusty piece of land on the west side of the city.

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. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we talk about mental health in Central California, one groups desire to end homelessness among veterans in Fresno, fires with Fresno Fire Chief Kerri Donis and a Bakersfield Instagram photo exhibit featuring FM89's Ezra David Romero's #droughtvoices photos.