Homeless encampments in Fresno will soon be illegal after City Council approves ban on outdoor camping

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From the run down encampments on F Street to the pristine walls of City Hall, the debate on how to solve Fresno's chronic homelessness is happening everywhere. (KFSN)

From the run down encampments on F Street to the pristine walls of City Hall, the debate on how to solve Fresno's chronic homelessness is happening everywhere.

Alvin Williams, who is homeless, said, "I have no other option-- where else am I going to go?"

Williams picked his location so caseworkers nearby could see he needs help. But under the city's newest ordinance he could soon be arrested for camping there.

"If the city wants to tell the MAP Program, my director's name is Robert inside...you call him and tell him, but we're not going nowhere."

Council members said it's a tough love approach to force the defiant few to register for social services. Only those who refuse treatment will be arrested and jailed.

"There is a big group of them that want help, then there is a segment that doesn't want help, and this is targeted behavior from that segment," Fresno Councilmember Steve Brandau said.

But homeless advocates say this tactic is flawed. There is a severe housing shortage and more than 1,700 homeless in the city.

An opponent to the new ordinance said, "It takes about a month, sometimes a year to get housing. They're being criminalized and they are trying to get the help that they need but the reality is that there is not enough."

Brandau admits there are challenges, but still voted along with three others to pass the ordinance. He said his priority lies with helping the majority who feel harassed.

"The business owners have been calling me like crazy, residents like crazy; people are fed up with it."

Williams said the only way to find housing is to continue waiting on his street corner. So he is not budging until city leaders come up with a better solution.

There will be a second reading of the ordinance and it will go into effect 30 days after that.

Related Topics:
politicshomelessFresno City CouncilfresnoFresno - Downtown
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