Advocates for the homeless push for temporary camps

September 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Since tearing down homeless shantytowns around downtown this month, the City of Fresno and the Housing Authority have been working to provide permanent homes for the homeless.

One example is an $11 million apartment complex called the Renaissance. It's now home for about 100 people. But with thousands seeking shelter, homeless advocate Georgia Williams says there needs to be something in between.

Williams explained, "We obviously can't go from cardboard, living on a piece of cardboard on the street, under it during rainy nights to condominiums overnight."

Another advocate for the homeless, Bill Simon told the council members, "Without a viable temporary program, we face an army of perhaps 5,000 homeless marching through our streets every day without help and without hope."

The advocates say other cities, like Portland and Las Vegas have come up with temporary solutions ranging from tent cities to old motels.

Many local advocates for the homeless are hoping a proposed "Eco Village" with small homes designed by local architect Arthur Dyson could work.

The small housing units would be an improvement over the sheds used to house homeless in the Village of Hope, where 120 formerly homeless now live.

Jerry Bill told the council the homeless need a place to regain a sense of respect for themselves.

Bill added, "The goal of the project is to provide safe, sanitary and uplifting and dignified housing for the homeless."

City Council Members Steve Brandau and Clint Olivier indicated support for the plan.

Brandau said, "Especially if you get a private donation of land and you need some city help on zoning or permitting we do that for developers and other projects around the city."

Architect Arthur Dyson told Action News negotiations for an undisclosed property for the "Eco Village" are underway. But no matter where the land is, location could be an issue.

Some years ago the city bought a piece of land in a warehouse district near downtown, with plans to turn it into a homeless camp. The plan was dropped when local businesses objected.

The Mayor and City Manager have made it clear they don't support temporary homeless camps anywhere in the city.


Load Comments