Tackling homelessness in Fresno

February 26, 2013 12:15:55 AM PST
Homelessness is a serious issue in Fresno and in surrounding communities. But actually tracking the homeless population is another task.

In Downtown Fresno, it doesn't take long to spot homelessness. In 2011, an estimated 5,100 were living in shelters or on the streets.

With clip boards in hands, a dozen volunteers with homeless advocacy groups and government agencies called the Fresno-Madera Continuum of Care hit the streets to learn and record the challenges the homeless are facing.

"Well actually I think it's helpful," said Emily Weir. "I think people have to realize that there's a lot of homeless people out there who definitely need more resources and help."

Emily Weir has been in Fresno for about a month and says many homeless people struggle to find help.

Melissa Mikel with the Fresno Housing Authority said, "We're taking pictures of the individuals with their consent and we're putting a name and face to homelessness and what can we do to change that here in Fresno."

Personalizing their visit will allow care givers to keep track of where the homeless are staying and help reach them quicker. And as homelessness grows, so does outreach.

"This time we are going city wide, Madera and we're hitting a few of our rural areas," said Melissa Mikel. "We'll be out in Sanger and Parlier conducting the survey a little later, out in Del Rey and Huron."

The information will also help the organization apply for funding and grants, specific to the homeless in the Valley.

Volunteers will spend three days surveying people in Fresno and Madera. Organizers will get a clearer picture about Valley homelessness in about a month.


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