Officials irritated with homeless camps seen along Highway 41

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's hard to miss the homeless encampments along Highway 41 near Divisadero.

"It is completely unhealthy, unsanitary, it is a terrible look for the entire city," says Fresno Councilman Garry Bredefeld.

Tents and trash have transformed the land. Paths and ledges are carved into the embankment.

Bredefeld says this has been a persistent problem that has only grown since the stay-at-home order was issued.

"In the embankments, they have created practically caves, some living centers there, they have trails along the embankments, this should never be allowed," he said.

Caltrans is responsible for keeping the embankments maintained, but have currently halted cleanups over health concerns.

In a statement, a spokesperson says in part, "Caltrans takes the health and safety of its employees very seriously. Due to concerns over COVID-19 and to limit its potential spread among the homeless population, Caltrans is temporarily suspending encampment cleanups unless
there is an immediate safety concern."

Bredefeld says Caltrans isn't doing enough.

"Whether we are dealing with COVID now or not dealing with COVID, they have never dealt with it properly, and this is just another excuse not to deal with the problem," he said.

The Fresno Mission offers resources an shelter to those in need. CEO Matthew Dildine says they continue to offer help to those who seek them out.

"Our front door served as a triage, you knock on that door and then we will triage you to the appropriate location," Dildine said.

CHP officials say that before when they would come in contact with the homeless living on the embankments, they'd inform them of the resources available to them, but now because of COVID-19, they really can't come near them.

Meanwhile, they are still advising anyone who witnesses any kind of crime to happen on the embankments to call 911.
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