We're at the studios of KFCF Radio Station. They're carrying the Homeless Marathon broadcast. Last year, the show focused on Fresno's homeless problem, and seemed to prompt the city to act. But critics say the city and county are still not doing enough.
Help for Fresno's homeless comes in ways big and small. Jasmine White took it upon herself to set up a spaghetti feed for the folks on G Street. "I mean, I eat every day and these people are probably looking for their next meal," said White, "So you made up a big pot of spaghetti, and uh huh, and it probably cost me about ten bucks."
This modest dinner was served across the street from one of the city's most expensive homeless projects. The Village of Hope consists of 44 wooden sheds. No plumbing, no electricity. The city spends nearly $400-thousand dollars a year to house people this way.
For Gordon Nelson and the other 80 or so residents, living here, it's better than being on the street. "It's all good. It's money well spent, I think."
Homeless advocate Mike Rhodes doesn't agree. "$360-thousand dollars for tool sheds, that's ridiculous. You or I couldn't put a tool shed in our back yard and put our mother-in-law in it. That would be elder abuse."
The City put up the sheds after a radio program came to town one year ago and told the nation how the City of Fresno took care of its homeless with bulldozers. The city has changed its policies and is working slowly toward a better solution. But the sheds, and these portable toilets at a homeless camp which cost the city $13,000 dollars a month, are the only obvious signs of progress.
"There's hundreds of people living on the streets every night that don't have adequate shelter; we can do better," said Rhodes.
Congressman Jim Costa agrees. He's working to get the City and County of Fresno to come together. "If you bring resources together you can solve problems in a much more effective and efficient fashion, and that's what I think we've been lacking here," said Costa.
But a comprehensive ten-year plan to deal with the homeless problem in the city and county is expected to be ready on June first. The plan is designed to help get more federal money into the region. The Homeless Marathon Radio Show that first broadcast Fresno's homeless problem is back on the air. Live this year from Nashville. The hope is folks here are still listening.
The goal of the Annual Homeless Marathon Radio Broadcast is to raise awareness of the homeless problem across the nation. In Fresno, the number of homeless living in tents and under bridges is many times higher than those living in the cities shed shanties.