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Indybay Feature

Interview with Fresno’s New Homelessness Czar

by Mike Rhodes (editor [at] fresnoalliance.com)
This is a one hour interview with Gregory Barfield who is the new Homelessness Czar (AKA: the Homeless Prevention and Policy Manager for the City of Fresno). The interview is broken up into 4 parts. The questions in each section are described below. The interview took place on January 21, 2009.
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Interview - Part 1 (13:04 minute audio)

The questions I asked Greg:

Tell me why the issue of homelessness is important to you. Have you ever been homeless?

What is your understanding of the City of Fresno’s policy on homelessness over the last 5 years?

What have they done right and what have they done wrong?

Describe the role of the Fresno Police Department in their interactions with the homeless. Would you like to see that relationship change? What will you do to change the way the FPD interacts with the homeless?

What is the current situation, with regard to the homeless in Fresno today?
§14:53 minute audio
by Mike Rhodes
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Interview - Part 2

What is the current situation, with regard to the homeless in Fresno today (continues)?

How many homeless people do you think there are in Fresno? What is the value of having an accurate count?

How do we end the dumping of homeless patients from local hospitals?

Many homeless people use the library as a way to get off the street during the day, because there is no other place for them to go. What are your thoughts about this situation.
§14:37 minute audio
by Mike Rhodes
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Interview - Part 3

Library conversation continues. . .

Tell me about your new job. How big is the budget, how many people are on your staff, and who do you report to. Do you feel you have the support you need, in order to get the job of ending homelessness in Fresno done?

Describe the Housing First program and how it works.

I have been told that it will take up 2 years before the homeless, living in encampments in the downtown area, are given housing under the Housing First program that you support. If that is true, what can be done for the people that are out there now?

What is the time frame for providing homeless people with vouchers that will get them into descent housing?
§18:40 minute audio
by Mike Rhodes
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Interview - Part 4

What is the time frame for providing homeless people with vouchers that will get them into descent housing (continued)?

How long will the housing vouchers that you hope to get out in the next couple of months be good for? A couple of months? A year? Forever?

In the short term, in the next six weeks, people are still homeless. There was a sign put up at the H street encampment saying that people are going to have to move. What do you see happening?

How many people will be included in the voucher program? What, if any, restrictions will there be on who gets the vouchers? What if 10,000 people sign up?

What will you do for the people who are currently in the encampments and need portable toilets, trash bins, and running water?
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