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Central Valley | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Massive Homeless Eviction to take place in Fresno
by Mike Rhodes ( editor [at] fresnoalliance.com )
Saturday Oct 22nd, 2011 11:43 AM
The City of Fresno is moving to evict homeless people from all downtown encampments. Is the city offering them a better place to live? Will evicting the homeless, just before the holidays, help them in some way? The answer to these and other exciting questions are answered in the photos and story below.

The City of Fresno has posted notices to evict people in all of the downtown homeless encampments. The first evictions, on Santa Fe south of Ventura, will take place on Thursday October 27. Evictions at all of the other encampments - The Hill, G street, Santa Clara street, F street, and at San Benito/H street will take place on Tuesday, November 1.

The homeless people who I talked to today were concerned that they have no other place to go. Lucifer asked how the city could evict the homeless right before the holidays. “The weather is getting colder and we have nowhere to go.” Lucifer said he was organizing a meeting for later today, to get the homeless to develop a strategy for dealing with these evictions.

On F street Nate said that the city was offering some homeless people housing, but added that “even if the city provides 100 or so apartments, what about the rest of us? There must be 5,000 homeless people in downtown Fresno right now. Apartments for 100 is nothing but a public relations attempt by the city to make it look like they are doing something to help the homeless.”

Butch, who was busy with Saturday morning recycling work on San Benito, wanted to know “where the fuck are we supposed to go?” He said it was cruel for the city to be evicting everyone just as the weather is about to get cold. “How is taking our property and destroying our homes going to help the homeless, that is what I want to know,” Butch said.

Over on Santa Fe (south of Ventura) Rose stood around a morning fire with about 10 other homeless people. They were cooking breakfast when I arrived. Rose had called to let me know about these evictions. She introduced me to Patchrich, who asked what would happen if all of the homeless were to link there arms and refuse to allow the city sanitation workers to do their jobs on Thursday.

Patchrich and Rose also think that they may have squatter rights at the Santa Fe encampment, since they have been living there for over a year. I told them I would seek a legal opinion about that and get back to them.

In the meantime, the first evictions start at 7 a.m. next Thursday at Santa Fe, just south of Ventura. Evictions at the other encampments are scheduled for 7 a.m. on November 1. Will there be homeless advocates there to support potential resistence to the evictions? Will legal observers be on hand to monitor the situation and defend the civil/legal rights of the homeless? Stay tuned. . .
§Yolanda and the Eviction Notices on F street
by Mike Rhodes Saturday Oct 22nd, 2011 11:43 AM

§Eviction Notice at Santa Clara and G streets
by Mike Rhodes Saturday Oct 22nd, 2011 11:43 AM

§G street Eviction Notice
by Mike Rhodes Saturday Oct 22nd, 2011 11:43 AM

§Close Up of Eviction Notice
by Mike Rhodes Saturday Oct 22nd, 2011 11:43 AM

§Patrich is at the Santa Fe Encampment
by Mike Rhodes Saturday Oct 22nd, 2011 11:43 AM

§Rose and Eviction Notice
by Mike Rhodes Saturday Oct 22nd, 2011 11:43 AM

§Eviction Notices at The Hill
by Mike Rhodes Saturday Oct 22nd, 2011 11:43 AM

§Photos of the eviction
by Mike Rhodes ( editor [at] fresnoalliance.com ) Friday Oct 28th, 2011 9:08 AM
For those reading this thread about the eviction of the homeless on Santa Clara, I have posted photos of what happened on Thursday here:

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/10/27/18695578.php and http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/10/27/18695595.php .

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Mike Rhodes
( editor [at] fresnoalliance.com ) Sunday Oct 23rd, 2011 7:45 AM
My thinking this morning is that if we are not able to stop the eviction, through political pressure or direct action, then the homeless should be encouraged to move to City Hall and Courthouse Park. The City of Fresno has created this crisis and we should use the opportunity to demand that the homeless not be forced to move UNLESS there is a better place for them to move to. Simply making life for the homeless more difficult is not acceptable.

Also, an emergency meeting to discuss this situation will take place at 8:30 p.m. this evening (Sunday) at:

CWA Union Hall
4422 E. Ashlan Avenue
Fresno

I hope to see you there!
by advocate
Sunday Oct 23rd, 2011 11:01 AM
wouldn't it make sense for this "emergency meeting" to be somewhere near downtown so those involved could actually go to it?
by Dan Waterhouse
Sunday Oct 23rd, 2011 8:46 PM
First of all, the old Golden State Boulevard bridge is going to be torn down in the very near future--the City is processing the permits with Caltrans for that work. There are encampments in the demolition zone that will have to be removed for the residents' safety. Secondly, I've heard the Santa Fe encampment literally violates state law--registered sex offenders can't live within so-many feet of one another. From a reading of City Council minutes over recent months, the councilmember for that area is getting heavy pressure from the business owners to do something about the encampment.

The real danger in all this is that groups of residents are sprouting up around town due to the budget cuts hitting the PD. Some of these groups have been vocal in their intent to deal with what they preceive as a problem with crime and/or homeless themselves. Councilmember Brand wants to liberalize the issuing of concealed weapon permits. Self-styled vigilantees are the last thing Fresno needs, but we're drifting in that direction.
by Mike Rhodes
Sunday Oct 23rd, 2011 11:26 PM
Responding to the location of the meeting. The meeting was held at the Communication Workers of America union hall because there was already a meeting planned at that location and representatives from several community groups would already be there. CWA is in Fresno, not Clovis. There were homeless people at the meeting. They had a central role in the discussion that took place. The meeting was very successful in rallying support for the homeless. The primary theme is that the City of Fresno needs to come up with a better plan than just chasing the homeless from one place to another. That strategy does not help to end homelessness, it does not help the homeless, and in fact makes their lives more difficult.

Responding to Dan - The 290's at the Santa Fe homeless encampment have all moved. That happened about a month ago. OK, if work on the bridge is about to happen, then a safe and legal place for the homeless should be found and the people living there can move to the new location. For the money the city is spending to make homeless people’s lives more miserable, they could provide them with portable toilets, trash bins, and drinking water. In addition, ALL of the homeless encampments downtown are under attack by the city. Not just the ones by the bridge.
by Dan Waterhouse
Monday Oct 24th, 2011 7:47 PM
...who's going to provide and pay for the new and safe location for the homeless to go? And where is a location large enough that the City (I'm assuming you want the City to bear the brunt of this) controls? Frankly, no private property owner will allow this on their property..
by kelly
Tuesday Oct 25th, 2011 3:04 AM
are you putting words in other people's mouths, Dan? For all I know, Mike may want the City Council or Mayor to foot the costs for their decision to uproot these campers, but I think everyone concerned feels the County is just as welcome and responsible. Both entities are more than thrilled to get money from the State and Federal government earmarked for services to the poor and homeless.
And they have to, because they damn sure cant manage to run things responsibly.
But they know how to treat their friends.
Thats a bold falsehood.
by Mike Rhodes
Tuesday Oct 25th, 2011 8:13 AM
Dan wrote: “no private property owner will allow this on their property..”

That is simply not true. There have been many instances that I am aware of where property owners had NO PROBLEM with the homeless living on a vacant lot or property they own. The City of Fresno threatens property owners who allow the homeless to live on their vacant lot, with fines, if they refuse to evict the homeless.

The city and county of Fresno own plenty of vacant lots and property in Fresno. More than enough to establish a safe and legal place for all homeless people to live. Drinking water is available by tapping into the water line. Really, how much do you think that is going to cost? The City of Fresno spends more on their “clean-ups” than it would cost to provide a dumpster and portable toilets. Cost is NOT the issue!

The problem is that the city and county do not have the political will to address the homeless issue in a humane and respectful way. As I have said many times before, there are plenty of houses and apartments in Fresno to house all of the homeless. The problem is that many of them are bank owned and boarded up. This is a political and economic problem that the city and county have refused to deal with. The housing stock is there - we just need a political and economic system that puts the needs of people above the interests of the financial sector (that 1% that Occupy Wall Street is talking about).

But, that kind of a long term solution is years down the road. What we need to do immediately is to get the city and county to find a safe and legal place where the homeless can live AND provide them with the same public services that every other person in this community takes for granted - water to drink, a place to go to the bathroom, and trash pick up. Geez, is that too much to ask?

I encourage everyone to join us at 7 a.m. at Santa Fe (south of Ventura) this Thursday, October 27 as we stand in solidarity with the homeless who are threatened with eviction.
by Dan
Tuesday Oct 25th, 2011 7:49 PM
...it sounds like you believe local government has the power to seize other people's property for yet others' use, without just compensation. It doesn't.

Which is why my late husband, who was homeless for some time (before we met) due to his alcoholism and addiction, looked askance at the local progressives who chose to embroil themselves in homeless issues. He often said he found our local liberals to be as unrealistic as some of their opposition.

When I posed the question about where local government could legally relocate several hundred people, I made the comment that no private property owner would allow this on his land--several hundred people to set up camp. What large plots of land does the City (or the County for that matter) have that doesn't have any other uses? None. I think the families who use Roeding Park on warm weekends to recreate would object to hordes of homeless occupying that green space.

Kelly made much of the city and county getting funding to help poor people. And, that's true. For ALL poor people who qualify for services, not just the homeless. My husband was helped by those services, and he appreciated that they were available for him.

Tom worked with the Continuum of Care to try to make things better for homeless folks, especially the LGBTs. During that effort, he learned to question motives, and he questioned the motives of some progressives: were they there to help, or were they there to use homeless to other ends?

I hope a solution can be found for the immediate problem. What I do know is continuing to allow the encampments to remain is not the solution. Tom believed that, and I agree with him.
by in solidaity with the homeless
Tuesday Oct 25th, 2011 8:52 PM
Press Release

IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Bill Simon, Committee Chair
October 25, 2011 375-5725

simon72811 [at] sbcglobal.net

Press Conference: Stop Eviction of the Homeless

Who: Father James Rude of the Bishop John Steinbock Homeless Advocacy Committee, and concerned community organizations.

What: Press Conference calling on the City of Fresno to halt its plan to begin evicting homeless people from all downtown Fresno encampments

When and Where: Wednesday, October 26, 10:30 a.m. in front of City Hall, 2600 Fresno Street, Fresno, CA 93721

Community groups led by the Bishop John Steinbock Homeless Advocacy Committee have joined together to hold a press conference to address a decision by the City of Fresno to evict homeless people from all encampments in downtown Fresno.

The City apparently intends to evict people from the homeless encampment on Santa Fe Ave. south of Ventura St. on Thursday, October 27, starting at 7 a.m.

“The City of Fresno should not evict these homeless people, just as the weather is getting colder,” says Mike Rhodes, editor of the Community Alliance, “unless they provide them with a better place to live.

“The city should also provide drinking water, portable toilets and trash bins, so Fresno’s homeless can live with some dignity in what must certainly be a difficult time in their lives. Simply chasing them with a stick from one vacant lot to another does not help the homeless and will not end homelessness.”

Bill Simon says, “If the eviction continues as planned, we will be there to witness it.”

Represented at the press conference: Community Alliance, Occupy Fresno, Progressive Democrats of America Central Valley‒Sierra Progressives, Peace Fresno, Volunteers for Change, the Madera County Democratic Central Committee and the Fresno County Democratic Party

###
by kelly
Wednesday Oct 26th, 2011 6:01 AM
those are some right tired modern cliche/talking points, without even taking personal responsibility for the hardheartedness of it. progressives are as easily misguided as anyone, thats a fact. nor do you have to be progressive to be misguided, and there isnt a stitch of sense in the City of Fresno's HATEFUL policies towards their poorest residents. Its OBVIOUS those not homeless have perfect access to social services, diametrically different to the challenges faced by homeless men and women. You show no appreciation for the suffering of others while apparently consumed by your own. Just tell me what purpose you think you serve opposing public compassion towards the homeless?
The city weasels are making huge bank off the poor in and out of their official administrative positions.
Despicable.
by Mike Rhodes
Wednesday Oct 26th, 2011 2:08 PM
Statement by Mike Rhodes, editor of the Community Alliance newspaper

The City of Fresno’s plan for massive evictions of the homeless, starting Thursday morning, is heartless and cruel. Destroying their modest shelter and chasing them with a stick from one vacant lot or sidewalk to another will do nothing to help their lives or to end homelessness in Fresno.

Instead of making homeless people’s lives worse, what the City of Fresno should do is to provide a safe and legal place for them to live, that includes the same public services all of us take for granted - drinking water, a trash bin that is emptied regularly, and a place to go to the bathroom.

The city has a choice. They can make homeless people’s lives more difficult by destroying what little safety and security they have or they can help make their difficult lives better by providing them with basic public services. The ironic thing is that it would cost the city less to help the homeless, rather than hurt them. City officials bring shame to our community by conducting this eviction of the homeless.

Not only are city officials wrong to evict the homeless, they are lying to us about their motives. They say that they have offered homeless people housing, but they refuse it. There are homeless people here today that will tell you, in their own words, that this assertion by the city is a lie. The city says that they are evicting the homeless because of construction projects, when they know that most of the encampments are not located near a construction project. They used that same lie two years ago when they evicted the homeless from the H street encampment. No construction ever took place, but the homeless were evicted and today the vacant lot sits empty with a barbed wire fence around it.

If the city proceeds with this eviction tomorrow morning, there will be resistance, both from the homeless and people who support human rights. It is not too late - we call on the City of Fresno to call off this ill-conceived plan that will do nothing to end homelessness and only make the lives of the homeless more difficult.
by Dan
Thursday Oct 27th, 2011 8:26 AM
....instead of just presuming as someone who's never been homeless to know what's best for homeless people (kinda like white liberals telling Blacks what's good for them), I listen to those who've been there. My late husband was homeless for an extended time before we met, he was active in trying to improve things, and he didn't hesitate to speak his mind on homeless issues over the years, up until he died last year. He was blunt that having the encampments remain in any shape or form would just perpetuate the problem--in other words, they'd always be there regardless of the platitudes uttered by well-meaning folks. Since he should've known what he was speaking about, I believe his thoughts were and are correct.

The old Highway 99 bridge is coming down in the near future. I reviewed and signed off on the City's application for an encroachment permit a couple of weeks ago. Mike's own photos show tents and shantys underneath, something I confirmed when I field reviewed the application before signing it off.

I've been told all the funding is finally in place for the supportive housing (despite City Council questioning the wisdom of spending $130K per SRO unit when a 2-bedroom house can be built for the same amount) project near the Pov, so that will be starting soon.

As for the fenced area Mike was complaining about--George Hostettler of the Bee confirmed in a blog (having to do with property at 665 Fulton Street) the other day that's where two 3-million gallon water storage tanks are to go. Once the economy improves, that project will move forward--it has to, otherwise downtown will die.
by kelly
Thursday Oct 27th, 2011 4:39 PM
Im trying not to presume a lot of things. You havent explained where the people being displaced are expected to go? They certainly arent going to be in line for the 69 suites. these people have been forced from clean campsites that had toilets and trash containers. The one being watched by a guard was an ungodly mess, while the lot that had campers cleaning up was so tidy you could literally eat off the dirt.
Which one was costing the city taxpayers big bucks?
These are the real issues, money is not the important thing when homeless people are given the security and respect to help themselves they dont really need any of the services the governement wants to sell. the people that do need those services are going to be catered to with some very nice suites across from the Pov. someday.
I hope you already had a place in mind for these lifelong residents of Fresno to go. I may have missed your suggestion.
Thanks for the info!
by Dan
Friday Oct 28th, 2011 6:02 AM
...you're finally being honest.

You want the encampment(s) to stay.

The City doesn't. The housed residents and the business owners don't. And the social service agencies don't.

If you didn't know this already, the average life span of unhoused homeless is around 40 yoa (based upon several studies, including a recent one in the Bay Area). Obviously, you believe it's being kind to allow people to remain on the street because "they want to be there and they have a right to be 'free." I say your position is not kindness--but cruel.

I am also very concerned that the tactics you and Mike obviously used yesterday are going to lead to violence against the homeless (and you folks, eventually). I've been tracking several ad hoc neighborhood groups that have popped up around town since FPD took massive budget cuts. The more vocal members of these groups are advocating violence against "criminals" and the "homeless."

There is backlash growing out in the community aimed at the more radical progressives. Over the last few months, I was personally targeted because of the editorial positions of the Community Alliance, and as a result, I've ended my involvement with the paper.

Good luck.
by Ann
Friday Oct 28th, 2011 12:08 PM
You care about those who are Homeless and Mike cares.. as many of us do. We should not let the negative elements pull us apart. WE might not agree on tactics or approaches, but know we are all trying to bring justice and help. We all, including all sides of the arguements need everyone. WE cannot afford to casually let anyone go over some small frustratiosn or differences. We, as a group, have more strength because of the diversity of our approaches to creating a just community.
Stop and think for a moment, who does i serve to have us put our energy into fighting amoung ourselves about the best strategies?

If these groups are advocating or promoting violence against "homeless", then aren't the singling out a group of people and thus isn't that a "hate crime" ?

If this isn done via Internet then the Secret Service should be called. If this done via radio, or word of mouth then the FBI should be called.
If someone suspects that the Police are part of the groups then the FBI should be called
IN all cases then the CA Attorney General should be called.
by kelly
Saturday Oct 29th, 2011 7:24 PM
id appreciate you pointing to my dishonesty more directly and substantively.
Thats a nice spin on the blowback tip.
Im sure we could go round and round with your mainstream presumptions and biases,
and my basic point of view being misrepresented to continue a false argument.
take care.