This Week at City Hall - Remarkable Stories from Encampment Cleanup
11/15/2011
Some remarkable personal stories from cleanup of encampments
 
The recent cleanup of encampments near the areas near Monterey Street Bridge and Santa Clara and F streets have impacted individuals in some remarkable ways.
 
While the process of the cleanup has received most of the attention, here are some moving examples of people who have seen positive changes in their lives because of the work of the City of Fresno and our numerous partner agencies. (We’ve changed the names to protect their privacy):
  • Charles had been homeless for about five months.  He moved to Fresno from San Antonio to live with his sisters, but he went on the streets when his sisters found him too difficult to work with because of his development disabilities.  He planned to find a way back to Texas, but he was worried about his friend Joey, who also is in a wheelchair and is bipolar with the mental capacity of a three-year-old.  Charles took Joey under his wing and protected him on the street.  Our social service providers were able to make contact with Charles' family in Texas, who had lost track of him and were in tears to learn that we had located Charles.  His family has sent him a one-way bus ticket back home, where they will all be reunited this week.
     
  • As for Joey, our service partners were able to get him in touch with mental health professionals, who could not believe that someone in his condition could survive on the streets.  Now he won’t have to survive on the streets -- Joey will be placed in housing, where he will have a stable environment to receive mental health services.
     
  • Anthony has been homeless for a year despite having a job the entire time.  He walked 10 miles to and from his work each day, returning to the streets every night.  He’s temporarily housed in a hotel while he looks for an apartment unit closer to his work.
     
  • Annette had a falling out with her family in Pennsylvania and was living on the streets in Fresno.   When she learned that the encampments were being cleaned up, she contacted her family to reconcile, and they gladly sent her a one-way bus ticket back to Pennsylvania for a reunion.
 
None of that would have happened if the City hadn’t closed the encampments and service organizations weren't out there interviewing people and helping them find options for stable housing and connecting them with appropriate services.  As of late last week, 58 people have received housing, and we’re still working with another 68 to get them services and housing.  We will have updated numbers at the end of the week.
 
The City and its partners have 140 housing vouchers available, and we have more housing units in the pipeline to come on board. The Fresno Housing Authority in August opened 20 units of housing for homeless in need of mental health services, and they have an additional 100 units that will be available within the next 15 months.
 
This has not been an easy or a perfect path, but we’re making progress on preventing and ending the cycle of homelessness.  There is much more that can and should be done.  If you’re willing to help, please visit www.FresnoFirstStepsHome.org, where they have several options to donate to the effort to address homelessness:
  • Individuals can make a one-time donation in any amount, taking the “Buck a Month” pledge in which they donate $12 a year to the effort, or set up a monthly donation in any amount through PayPal.
     
  • Donations also can be made by texting the word HOME to 85944 to make a one-time, $10 donation to Fresno First Steps Home.
     
  • Donations also can be mailed to City Manager’s Office, 2600 Fresno Street, Fresno, CA 93721. Checks should be made payable to “Fresno First Steps Home.”
 
Help Our Community by Serving Fresno on Saturday
 
Fresnans have shown their caring and giving spirit time and again as we deal with the challenges that we all face.  Whether it’s nonprofit organizations stepping up to operate community centers, businesses and groups adopting parks or residents volunteering their time on any number of projects,  our volunteers and community partners have  been at the forefront of making Fresno a better place to live, work and conduct business
 
There will be a special opportunity to help our community on Serving Fresno Day on Saturday, Nov. 19.  The City of Fresno, in partnership with HandsOn Central California and the Bank of the Sierra, is looking for hundreds of volunteers to help winterize and beautify Roeding Park.
 
Volunteers will be asked to participate in general cleanup, trash and graffiti removal, lake cleanup, and washing down of picnic shelters, a tot lot and tennis courts.  All volunteers are asked to bring their own gloves and rake, if possible, as well as a water bottle or refillable water container.  Volunteers also should make sure they wear closed-toed shoes and long pants and dress in layers.
 
For more information or to register, please visit www.handsoncentralcal.org.
 
Fulton Corridor Specific Plan Takes an Important Step Forward
 
After a series of public meetings, the citizens' committee for the Fulton Corridor Specific Plan voted unanimously on Nov. 8 to recommend initiating the environmental review and adoption process for the draft Specific Plan and Downtown Development Code.
 
A similar committee for the Downtown Neighborhoods Community Plan also has  conducted a series of meetings and will reconvene on December 13 to consider all public comments about the draft Community Plan and make their recommendation on plan initiation.

With these steps, the preparation of environmental documents for the Downtown Plans begins. This environmental process also will include public meetings and opportunities for comment and is expected to conclude with adoption of the Plans and Code in about a year from now.
 
The plans are available for review at www.fresnodowntownplans.com.
 
Mayor Swearengin’s Activities
 
While some of these activities outlined below are not public meetings, these are some of the issues being addressed this week by Mayor Swearengin:
  • Joining local businesses involved in the Fresno Regional Independent Business Alliance to make an exciting announcement related to supporting local businesses during the holiday season.  Check the City’s website on Thursday for further details;
     
  • Traveling to Sacramento to meet with the chair of the California Energy Commission;
     
  • Meeting with leaders from the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce to discuss issues of mutual interest;
     
  • Meeting with Dr. Timothy Stearns, executive director of the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Fresno State, and students enrolled in the Center’s mentor program;
     
  • Speaking at three separate events:  “A Region of Abundant Communities” conference, a California Apartment Association luncheon, and a 9 to 5 for Christ dinner.
     
  • Attending the monthly meeting of the Fresno County Council of Governments;
     
  • Meeting with Councilmember Oliver Baines and a local organization regarding economic development efforts;
     
  • Attending a presentation by Nagesh Rao Parthasarthi, Consul General of India in San Francisco, at Fresno State;
 
A different kind of Local Bites event in December
 
With the busy holiday season approaching, the Local Bites initiative will take a different approach for its December event.  Instead of the usual dinner, Local Bites will feature a breakfast at Huckleberry’s at Champlain and Perrin on Tuesday, Dec. 6, starting at 7:30 a.m.
 
Please feel free to join Mayor Swearengin at the breakfast – or plan to eat at a locally owned restaurant at least once a month to help our local economy.If you’re planning to join Mayor Swearengin, just remember – when it comes to the bill, you’re on your own!
 
All of the dates and additional information on the Local Bite Night schedule is posted on the Taste Fresno website at www.TasteFresno.com/localbites. For a great list of locally owned restaurants, see the City of Fresno’s Local Business Directory or go to www.FresnoLocalBiz.com.  
 
 ‘Go Green and Clean’ at Lafayette Park
 
The “Go Green and Clean” park beautification program will be held at Lafayette Park, 1516 E. Princeton, on Saturday, Nov. 19, from 8 a.m. to noon.
 
In the program, volunteers participate in basic park care through litter removal, flower bed raking, pruning, painting, graffiti removal and other light tasks from 8 a.m. to noon.
 
Volunteers are encouraged to wear long pants, hats, gloves and sun block and bring plenty of drinking water. Basic work tools and supplies will be provided by the City of Fresno.  Each volunteer will be required to complete a volunteer form and waiver.
 
This Week’s Meetings
 
Here are other city-related meetings this week:
  • District 5 Implementation Committee, City Hall Room 3054, Monday, Nov. 14, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
     
  • District 6 Implementation Committee, City Hall Room 3078, Monday, Nov. 14, 4-5 p.m.
     
  • Historic Preservation Committee meeting, City Hall Conference Room A, Monday, Nov. 14, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
     
  • District 2 Implementation Committee, City Hall Room 3078, Monday, Nov. 14, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
     
  • Planning Commission meeting, City Hall Council Chambers, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 6-10 p.m.
     
  • City Council meeting, City Hall Council Chambers, Thursday, Nov. 17, 8:30 a.m.
     
  • Tower District Implementation Committee, City Hall Room 3078, Friday, Nov. 18, 4-5 p.m.
 
Follow Mayor Swearengin, City of Fresno on Twitter
 
For up-to-date information on happenings related to the City of Fresno, follow Mayor Swearengin on Twitter @MayorSwearengin or the City of Fresno @CityofFresno.
 
NOTE:  This Week at City Hall will return on Nov. 28.