Help stop the Homeless eviction planned for Fresno

Peace be with you.

From Independent Media Central Valley:

Homeless people are once again being forced to pack up and move on, under the threat of having their property taken by the City of Fresno….

The homeless people at this encampment and others in the downtown area have until Wednesday, January 7 at 8 AM to move. Homeless people living in the encampment on Santa Clara street told me that they don’t have anywhere else to go.

This eviction comes at a critical time, shortly after the City and County of Fresno have agreed to move in a new direction that provides housing for the homeless, rather than attacking them. The City of Fresno and Caltrans recently settled a lawsuit that awarded homeless people $2.3 million, because their rights were violated as a result of illegal destruction of their property. The settlement was part of the motivation for moving in the direction of Housing First, a national program that provides homeless people with housing, without pre conditions. For example, a homeless person does not have to be cured of drug addiction or mental illness before they can get housing. Housing is seen as fundamental to helping homeless people improve their lives.

The eviction on Wednesday, if it happens, will be on the day after Ashley Swearengin, the new mayor of Fresno, is sworn into office. Swearengin has pledged to end homelessness and supports the Housing First model.

Gregory Barfield, who has been hired as the Czar on Homelessness for the City of Fresno (at least that is what some people call the job), will start his job on Monday. Barfield, who tells me his official title is Homeless Prevention and Policy Manager, is adamant that the City is going to move in a new direction. He is a strong supporter of Housing First and is looking for ways to implement that policy…

What better time to signal a change in policy than the week that the new mayor takes office and the Homeless Prevention and Policy Manager starts his job? Will the “powers that be” make a break with the past, when homelessness was treated as a crime? Will they provide the leadership needed to start helping rather than hurting the homeless? If the City of Fresno moves forward with this “clean up” I would like Swearengin and Barfield to explain to this community how forcibly taking homeless peoples property and demanding that they “move on” when there is no better place to move on to, is helping the homeless.

Wednesday will be a test of whether this City’s policy on the homeless has taken one step forward or two steps back.

For more information and photos of the encampment see: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/01/04/18558529.php?show_comments=1#18558645

For a list of articles and documents about the struggle for civil liberties for homeless people in Fresno, see: http://www.fresnoalliance.com/home/homelessness.htm

How you could help

by Mike Rhodes

( mikerhodes [at] comcast.net ) Sunday Jan 4th, 2009 10:00 PM In response to several requests for information about what people can do to help, which I have received in the last couple of hours, I want you to know that:

I’m going to be there (at Santa Clara and G streets) on Wednesday to document what happens. We don’t have a lot of time to organize any kind of a “response” to this latest development (the clean-up on Wed), but it would not hurt if you or others contacted Ashley Swearengin and or Greg Barfield and told them that you are concerned about this “clean up” and encourage them not to confiscate homeless peoples property and not force them to leave the Santa Clara encampment UNLESS they (the city) offers them a better place to go.

You can contact the mayor at:

Phone: (559) 621-8000
Fax: (559) 621-7990
E-Mail: Mayor [at] fresno.gov
Note: Alan Autry will still be the mayor on Monday. Ashley starts her new job on Tuesday.

Greg Barfield can be reached through the City Manager’s office, at:

Phone: 559-621-7770
Fax: 559-621-7776
gregory.barfield [at] fresno.gov

love eternal
tad

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s