Ban on homeless camping causes concern for Fresno residents

Friday, October 20, 2017
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The City of Fresno's ban on the homeless camping is causing concerns for Fresno County.

Some county leaders are worried the homeless will simply move outside city limits and strain county resources.

Under state law, it is the county's responsibility to provide services to help the needy, including the homeless. Some in the county fear the city's decision to criminalize homeless camping will increase the county's burden, on the jail, courts, and social services.

Keeping homeless people from setting up camp on sidewalks was the goal of Fresno's no camping ordinance. Fresno County Supervisor Andreas Borgeas believes it is leading to more homeless camps outside the city limits, in the county.

"Now in a perfect world, if the City of Fresno were listening, I would ask them to revisit this ordinance, " said Borgeas.

Supervisor Buddy Mendes says the no camping ordinance does not do anything to solve the homeless problem.

"They like to do these big shows about nothing, and what they do is push the problem over to us," said Mendes.

The supervisors felt the city failed to consult with the county before implementing the plan. But the author of the city ordinance, City Council Member Steve Brandau, said it is working on cleaning up city streets.

"They are moving on they are realizing they cant pitch tents and bathe in public, so they are moving on which was the real intent of the ordinance," said Brandau.

County Mental Health Director Dawan Utecht said the city has been working with the county.

"My department is partnering very closely with the Police Department for instance with the crisis intervention team," said Utech.

The biggest problem in dealing with the homeless is a lack of housing.

"About half of the people we are able to survey a year that are interested in getting off the streets we have the resources to house," said Jody Ketcheside of Turning Point Social Services.

"I want the folks that need housing to get housing and I know there's a waiting list, but our ordinance that we passed, the no camping ordinance is really going to set back their strategies," said Brandau.

The city has only issued two misdemeanor citations for homeless camping since the ordinance took effect at the first of the month.
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