Breaking the cycle of homelessness in Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

Janice Scott began classes again Monday at the north campus of Heald College ... she has one more year of school before embarking on a medical administration career. But it wasn't more than a year ago Janice lived in a tent in Fresno's notorious tent city near H and Ventura Street downtown.

Janice said, "I remember there was a lot of people out here ... a lot of chaos ... a lot of hopelessness ... and I remember just thinking to myself and crying ... I just don't belong here."

About a year ago ... Fresno "Homeless Czar" Greg Barfield approached Janice about moving into her own apartment. Once in her own place ... Janice enrolled in school. She's just one of dozens of former homeless men and women who now have housing and hope because of Fresno First Steps Home ... a community-wide homeless initiative.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin said, "When you start with housing you can then work to put other things in people's lives to help stabilize their lives and help them move towards independence."

Several corporate sponsors have already donated a total of 220-thousand dollars towards the initiative ... an initiative that mayor Swearengin hopes will last long after she's left office. She's hoping Fresno residents will see the benefit of getting involved by donating a buck a month.

She says, "We need the public to hear the message that a buck a month from everybody ... frankly if just 20 percent of the people of Fresno took the buck a month pledge ... then we would more than meet our million dollar goal.

As for Janice ... she looks forward to one day being able to give back.

She says, "I will be forever grateful to this program ... because for people like me who really want a way out ... who really want to better their lives ... it's really a perfect opportunity for them to do just that.

ABC30 is a sponsor of the Fresno First Steps Home initiative.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.