Homeless camps popping up throughout Fresno County

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The homeless population is moving from the city to the county. Homeless camps are popping up throughout Fresno County. (KFSN)

The homeless population is moving from the city to the county. Homeless camps are popping up throughout Fresno County.

A homeless camp just outside the city limits is full of people who said they have no place else to go. Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea said the homeless are being driven into areas in the county because of the City of Fresno's homeless crackdown.

"As homeless encampments were being dispersed within Fresno, we started seeing more activity in our rural areas as well as in our unincorporated areas within the county."

Fresno County launched its own effort to clear out homeless camps in January. Sheriff's Detective Doug Richardson has been leading the effort. He said clearing camps helps, but helping the homeless isn't easy.

"I think in the homeless encampments my experience is, we are dealing the chronic-- chronically homeless, and that's why we have such a low rate of people accepting help."

The services they are trying to offer can include counseling and a place to live, but there aren't enough places to go around. One homeless man, living in a dilapidated trailer without water or electricity, told us he would accept an apartment, but won't go back to a homeless shelter and its restrictive hours.

"And then at six 'O clock in the morning out you go, come back at eight at night, C'mon man, I'm crippled up."

Clearing the camp where the man lives is difficult because it's on private property. And a woman who claimed she was the owner didn't like us talking to the residents. The county is filing legal papers to deal with the property.

While many refuse help, progress is being made in the city and county to find more housing. According to Jody Ketcheside, with the homeless advocacy group called Fresno-Madera County Continuity of Care, the number of unsheltered homeless is down.

"Since 2009 50-percent of those have either self-resolved or accepted help."

Richardson believes the effort to both crack down and providing help is showing results.

"We can't solve homelessness, but we certainly can make a dent in it with this program."

According to Continuum of Care, the number of unsheltered homeless in Fresno and Madera counties is down to less than a thousand people. That is compared to more than 2,000 seven-years-ago.

The federal government is giving nine groups in the county $8.5-million a year to provide housing, substance abuse, and mental health counseling to those that accept help.
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