Renewed efforts to house homeless in Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

Dealing with the homeless problem is an ongoing effort hampered by costs, and often the homeless themselves. There are signs the effort is paying off and the homeless situation appears to be getting a little better. There is no question the homeless camps in and around Downtown Fresno is an eyesore.

"It's like tent city over there and ugly, ugly, I don't know what they are going to do about it what the city is going to do about it," Vincent Madrid said.

Madrid was getting his car worked on and was shocked by the homeless shantytown in the field behind the shop.

"These people want to be there, they choose to be there," Madrid said.

That is what many think. But Keith Batten who has lived on the streets of Fresno for six months urges understanding.

"But sometimes we have to get both sides of the story to understand a person's situation," Batten said.

Batten lost his job, and has been sleeping on the sidewalk, his brother Everett Jackson came down to see him. Everett can relate because he lived on the streets for nearly a year but got out.

"It is hard, it's depressing you feel like less of a man, have no hope and stuff and I prayed and stuff, and God pretty much delivered," Jackson said.

Roseanna Landrum is one of the homeless who were contacted through an outreach program by the Fresno City County Housing Authority.

"We've started doing outreach at the encampments and we started doing these weekly community connections so we can start to get to know the people living on the streets here understand them and help them find help," Preston Prince said.

The first community connection took place at the Poverello House. Community connections are just part of the ongoing efforts to deal with the homeless problem. There are signs of progress, a new apartment building and more funding for housing vouchers are raising hope.

The latest count shows the number of homeless in Fresno has dropped about 20 percent in the past two years. But it is estimated there are about 3,000 homeless in Fresno and Madera Counties.

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