UPDATE: Fresno Homeless Lawsuit Settlement

June 6, 2008 7:29:36 PM PDT
Members of Fresno's homeless community won a major court victory. A federal judge approved a more than two million dollar settlement after the homeless sued the City of Fresno for violating their civil rights.The judge said the settlement was fair, adequate and reasonable and in early August homeless residents listed in the suit who had their property swept up and hauled off will be compensated.

Many of them don't have a home or much to celebrate but they stepped out of the federal courthouse Friday winners. Feeling redemption and hope for the future.

Jeannine Nelson, Won Lawsuit: "For me, it's a great day and I can say I'm glad I'm American and I can still help other people that are out there suffering."

Charlene Clay, Won Lawsuit: "We won but we still ain't got the funds yet and I wish it was actually over."

For violating their civil rights by tossing out their personal property, a federal judge said the near 1 point 5 million dollar award plus 850 thousand dollars in attorney's costs was fair. Those listed in the lawsuit seemed to agree.

Vera Holland, Won Lawsuit: "This money that's coming to everyone that needs it, it's because they actually really needed it. They never should've done us the way they did us."

Depending on what each individual lost, is how the money will be divided up, one thing for certain, hundreds of people will at least get something.

Paul Alexander, Attorney for Homeless: "We've identified 200 to 225 people there could be more that have had this destruction of their property happen to them and those are the people who are going to share in varying amounts depending on how much loss they suffered."

To help them make the most of the award, a homeless advocate respected by the court has been appointed. She will review each loss claim and determine the monetary award. Then she will help the homeless to use the money to improve their quality of life.

Liza Apper, Administrator of Award: "It's not just giving people money but it's helping guide them so they can make the best decisions for themselves and permanent decisions so they get into housing, or a mode of transportation, those types of life things they need."

Many said they hope to get out of a tent and get a real place to call home. Most say this is their chance for a fresh start.

"I'm happy, I'm really happy."

The estimated amount of compensation will range from 500 dollars cash up to 5 thousand dollars plus living allowances which vary. The judge will sign off on the award in late July.


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