City of Fresno crews clear out homeless encampment near the Poverello House

August 26, 2013 5:21:45 PM PDT
Hundreds of homeless residents in Downtown Fresno will have to find a new place to sleep. Monday morning, city crews began cleaning out a large homeless encampment near the Poverello House in Fresno.

City crews cleared out an illegal camp on Santa Clara and F Streets. It is the first of three they will raze. With masks and video cameras on, City of Fresno workers went to work cleaning up encampments near the Poverello House, forcing the homeless to leave.

"It's not a good feeling, knowing that you have to pack all your stuff up and you know that's the way it goes though," homeless man Manuel Hernandez said.

Crews dismantled the structures after the city says the area was a health and safety hazard for the homeless and those nearby.

"Murders, fires, the level of criminal activity in this area has gotten to the point where the Poverello and folks who are trying to seek services at the Poverello House are scared to come into the area," Bruce Rudd, Fresno City Manager said.

The city gave 30 day notices for people to remove their belongings and the housing authority offered community resources, finding shelter for about 50 of the hundreds who are impacted.

"No we do not have the resources to house every single individual at this particular point, but as a community, we're all working toward that," Doreen Eley, Fresno Housing Authority Assistant Housing Manager said.

Some homeless advocates also gathered at the cleanup, unhappy over the city's actions.

"So you're criminalizing desperate people that are looking for a safe place to lay their head at night," Chris Breedlove, Pastor at College Community Congregational Church said.

Breedlove says the homeless are dealing with complex issues and that tearing down an encampment won't fix the problem.

"What we're calling for is legalized campgrounds where the city can take on liability where the city can provide resources where you can actually help people to climb out of homelessness," Breedlove said.

Out here cleanup is expected to last a couple of days. City crews will then move on and two other homeless encampments in the next three weeks. The city says overall cost of the cleanup will cost about $70,000 and will be paid for out of the general fund.


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