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Grain Silo Homeless Encampment Posted for Demolition
The City of Fresno has posted notices that they will destroy the last homeless encampment in town. Unlike the destruction of other homeless encampments, the city is not claiming that the Grain Silo encampment is the site of drug sales, violence, or other criminal activity.
Notices were posted today by the City of Fresno, identifying October 23 as the day bulldozers will destroy the homeless encampment near the large Grain Silos at Palm and H streets. Nancy, a resident of the homeless encampment called me at about 8 a.m. this morning to say city workers were posting notices that their encampment would be destroyed.
The destruction of this homeless encampment does not come as a surprise, as it follows the bulldozing of several downtown shelters in August and September. There was a lull in the action as the Fresno Police Department stabilized the streets where the encampments had existed, making sure that nobody re-established an encampment.
That strategy was augmented last week by a new initiative by the city to take homeless peoples property if it was left unattended. For example, if a homeless person goes into the Poverello House for lunch and leaves their property outside the gate, it will probably be taken by city sanitation workers, backed up by the police. The property is then taken to an undisclosed location for 90 days. If homeless people can navigate through the city bureaucracy, they could (theoretically) reclaim their property. If they don’t recover their property in 90 days, it will be destroyed. “What good would it be to get my property back if I have to carry it all around with me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” one homeless man told me. Nobody could fault the City of Fresno for not being creative in finding new ways to make homeless peoples lives more difficult.
To read more about this new city initiative to harass the homeless, see: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/10/09/18744608.php
The Grain Silo encampment is the last major site where the homeless have been allowed to live in a community, with neighbors of their choosing. Now, most of the homeless in downtown Fresno are more isolated and vulnerable to predators because they do not have neighbors they can count on to protect them. This is a particular problem for homeless women, but is also an issue for many of the men who are now sleeping in doorways, under oleander bushes, or in the park.
There is a group of homeless advocates who are working on solutions to the city’s increasing attacks on the homeless. You can find out more at: http://www.helpfresnoshomeless.org/
Gary Marks lives just north of the Grain homeless encampment. The city posted notices at this location too. Gary says he has no idea where he will go.