Fresno City Council gives final approval to a plan to combat homeless camps on Fresno streets

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According to city numbers, Fresno's homeless population is on the decline, from 5,000 10 years ago to less than 2,000 today. (KFSN)

According to city numbers, Fresno's homeless population is on the decline, from 5,000 10 years ago to less than 2,000 today.

The city's decision to break up homeless encampments caused the homeless to spread throughout the city, raising complaints from businesses and residents, prompting the move to make it a crime to camp.

The first reading of the ordinance was approved after a contentious meeting last week, and it won final approval Thursday. The measure was pushed by Council Member Steve Brandau, with Council Member Esmerelda Soria the only member opposing it.

"The ordinance is based on helping the half a million people in this city that are crying out for an ordinance like this to clean up their streets," said Brandau.

Soria said, "I really don't see how effective this ordinance is going to be, just buzzwords to address the homeless issue that's been a problem for a lot of years."

An attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union warned the council that such anti-camping ordinances have been found unconstitutional by the courts. She referred to specific cases including one in Fresno which judges ruled that unless cities can provide adequate housing for the homeless they cannot ban homeless camping.

Supporters of the ordinance said being able to threaten the homeless with a fine and or possibly jail might be enough to persuade them to seek help. But city officials have already acknowledged there are not enough beds for all of the homeless in Fresno.

The ACLU has not threatened legal action, but warned the city they believe the ordinance is on shaky ground.

Related Topics:
politicshomelessFresno City CouncilfresnoFresno - Downtown
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