City and Partner Agencies Complete Scheduled Closure of H Street Encampments
07/16/2009

An operation to close a large homeless encampment in downtown Fresno was successfully completed this morning. City officials, working in cooperation with various local agencies, have provided housing and other supportive services to 133 individuals from the encampment.

“This collaborative effort marks an important step forward in our community’s approach to dealing with homelessness,” said Mayor Ashley Swearengin. “By providing services and support to those who formerly lived in the encampment, I believe we’re helping to put an end to the cycle of chronic homelessness.”

The encampment at was located on Union Pacific Railroad property at H Street and Monterey. The City of Fresno worked closely with Union Pacific on closure strategy over a period of several months. The encampment posed an ongoing safety hazard caused by persons crossing the adjacent railroad tracks, which includes an active rail switching yard.

The conditions in the encampments also posed health risks to those residing on the site due to limited sanitation facilities and criminal activity. The encampment on the H Street property has been the subject of hundreds of police, fire and medical calls for service within the past 12 months.

Wes Lujan, Director of Public Affairs for Union Pacific, praised the cooperative approach to closing the encampment and securing the railroad’s property. “I see this successful effort as a model for dealing with the challenge of homeless encampments on private property,” he said.

Earlier this year, the City Council allocated $700,000 to address homelessness in Fresno and secure necessary housing resources. The funds supported the previously adopted 10 Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness authored jointly by the City and County of Fresno.

The H. Street re-housing effort was coordinated by the City’s Homeless Prevention and Policy Manager Gregory Barfield. Working closely with the County of Fresno and agencies such as the Fresno Housing Authority, Economic Opportunities Commission, and the Poverello House, 104 individuals from the H Street encampment were placed in available housing units. An additional 29 individuals were provided with other forms of assistance. By 9am this morning, the H Street property had been completely vacated.

“Gregory Barfield and his team simply did an incredible job,” Mayor Swearengin said. “This was a very challenging task that required unique skills and a tremendous amount of passion. He has set a standard for our community and, I believe, others across the country to follow.”

CONTACT: Randy Reed, Director of Communications (559) 240-9724

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