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Central Valley | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Homeless Action in Fresno
by Mike Rhodes ( editor [at] fresnoalliance.com )
Sunday Jun 10th, 2012 11:17 PM
There was a “homeless action” event organized by Faith in Community/PICO in Fresno on Sunday, June 10. The event consisted of serving the homeless breakfast, a presentation (mostly) by homeless people to County of Fresno officials, and a street fair. The presentation portion of the event is in the video below.
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pico_1.m4v (327.3MB)

Sandy's presentation:

Hi, my name is Sandy. I’m going to tell you a little bit about the homeless people like me that talked with Faith in Community about what they need to get off the street.

They talked to over 100 homeless people in Fresno, some here at Poverello but most out on the streets all over Fresno. The top two things people mentioned as needs were interesting:

60% said they needed a job

48% said they needed housing
People want housing as a way to get back to work. They want to get back into a normal life.

Some other interesting things are the age of the people that were interviewed and their time spent on the street. 73% of people Faith in Community talked to were between 40 and 60 years old. Most of these people had work experience and skills in some field.

Now let’s look at how long people have been on the street. 55% of the people that participated in one to one interviews had been on the street less than 5 years and 33% had been there less than 3 years. What this suggested was that there may be a lot of us out here because of the recent economic crisis. We can’t find a way to make ends meet. Then people end up on the street and can’t find a way out.

Finally, many of those interviewed had a combination of crisis situations that led to homelessness, including:

Loss of employment

Death in the family

Divorce

Incarceration (sometimes for minor offenses)
What seemed to happen a lot is that two crisis situations lead to someone being unable to cope with their life. Then people end up on the street.

But listen to what we hear a lot from the City and County of Fresno, with all due respect to the Supervisor and County staff present today. (To them) Thank you so much for coming today to listen to our concerns. What we hear a lot is:

“Fresno’s homeless want to be on the street. They will refuse services if they’re offered.”

But this isn’t true. We do want services but this doesn’t mean that just anything will work for us; we’re people too.

Now I’d like to tell you what we want officials in Fresno to do. Homeless people need help. This problem isn’t going away. Every two years the federal government counts the number of homeless in Fresno and there are more of us every time and more of us are unsheltered.

Everyone needs to do as much as they can to make systems meant to serve us work better. These are the things we want:
1. The City and County of Fresno need to coordinate the services that do exist so that they reach those that need them. This includes both sources of income as well as housing. Give us a place we can go where all the County and City services are together. This will make it easier for us to learn what’s out there.
2. Increase access to emergency shelter beds and other services that already exist (64% usage measured for the 2011 Point in Time study)
3. Address homeless as a part of addressing poverty in a time of economic crisis.

Thank you so much for listening. Our message today is that we’re ready for help, as we’ve always been. We’ve always wanted to get back on our feet. But we want that help in a way that makes us feel valued. Thank you.
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Looks like....Dan WaterhouseMonday Jun 18th, 2012 3:29 PM