Wednesday, April 01, 2009

City Council OKs $700,000 for plan to help Fresno homeless

City Council OKs $700,000 for plan to help Fresno homeless

Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2009

Fresno City Council members Tuesday approved a $700,000 plan to help homeless residents find housing, and to help those about to be forced out of a southwest Fresno motel find new housing.

The 7-0 vote will immediately help residents facing eviction from Storyland Motel, and also allow city workers to begin a "triage assessment" of homeless residents in three downtown encampments.

"These are important first steps for us, and for these residents," said Gregory Barfield, Fresno's homeless prevention and policy manager.

Residents of the Storyland Motel, on the 1500 block of North Motel Drive, face eviction because of code violations at the property. The city is monitoring conditions at the hotel, where residents complained of unsafe electrical wiring and other problems.

A large group of residents attended the council meeting and asked the city to help them.

"As we sit here, they are boarding up some of the rooms at the hotel. Most of us don't have the money to move to somewhere else, and we will be on the streets without help," said resident Darcy Glover.

Helping people avoid homelessness is an important part of the city's plan to end chronic homelessness in 10 years, Barfield said. Another part of the plan is helping those who are already homeless.

To meet that latter goal, Barfield and his staff will conduct an intensive assessment of those living in Tent City, New Jack City and The Hill, Fresno's three largest homeless encampments, on land near the Union Pacific Railroad tracks at the edge of downtown.

"We need to figure out exactly who is living there, what their family situations are and how we can best help them," Barfield said.

Barfield said after the assessments are done, he can use some of the money to find housing for the residents, based on their needs and medical condition.

There are at least three pregnant women living in the camps, Barfield said, two of whom are in their third trimester. Several other residents have serious medical issues.

"The pregnant women and those who are seriously ill will be our first priority," Barfield said.

Barfield said the assessments will start next week, and Storyland Motel residents will be helped immediately if they are forced to move.

Also ...

In other action, Fresno City Council members:

* Voted unanimously to borrow more than $56 million in tax revenue anticipation notes, which must be repaid in one year. City officials said borrowing the money will allow the city to meet its financial obligations at a low interest rate.

* Accepted compensation recommendations for the city clerk and city attorney that included no pay increases, at their request.

* Approved issuance by Fresno Joint Powers Financing Authority of up to $22 million in bonds for capital projects, including construction of police stations for the Central and Southeast districts.

The reporter can be reached at or (559) 441-6659.
Comment: Good news from Fresno! This is the kind of specific concrete action that local governing bodies need to be taking to help the homeless. Sacramento and other cities and regions need to look at what they can afford to help keep people from being homeless and help avoid chronic homelessness. Once one becomes homeless it is hard to get back into housing because one needs a straightaway in terms of meeting daily survival needs while one is working, looking for work and trying to obtain a new housing situation. These are key obstacles for people to overcome in order to obtain a safe sanctuary for a home.

Education for Liberation! Join Up!
Peter S. Lopez aka: Peta

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