Mayor Swearengin, Corporate Supporters Announce $221,000 in Funding for Fresno Homelessness Initiative
07/19/2010

Joined by corporate supporters at the site of the former H Street homeless encampment, Mayor Ashley Swearengin today announced a major funding boost for Fresno First Steps Home, the City’s comprehensive, community-wide initiative to address homelessness.

Mayor Swearengin said four corporate supporters have contributed $221,000 toward the initiative, toward the Mayor’s goal of raising $1 million a year in private donations for Fresno First Steps Home. Kaiser Permanente Fresno and Saint Agnes Medical Center each contributed $83,000 this year to the initiative while Pacific Gas & Electric Company donated $50,000 and Union Pacific Railroad $5,000. Saint Agnes’ contribution is part of its three-year, $250,000 commitment to the initiative.

Along with the financial assistance, Mayor Swearengin announced that ABC30 of Fresno will be a media partner for Fresno First Steps Home. The station will produce public service announcements and other promotion throughout the year in support of the initiative. The Fresno Bee also has donated advertising space for the effort.

“Today is a major step forward for our efforts to ending the cycle of homelessness in the City of Fresno,” Mayor Swearengin said. “I applaud our supporters for stepping up in such a significant way to help us meet this challenge. Their financial commitment gives us tremendous momentum toward our goal of raising $1 million a year and also provides a strong foundation for investing in community groups and service providers that are doing such important work.”

Fresno First Steps Home is a nonprofit that will raise funds through individual donations, local businesses and grants. In turn, the funds raised will be granted to area nonprofits and public service providers who are working to implement Fresno’s 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness.

In addition to seeking corporate funding, Mayor Swearengin has asked each City resident to donate $1 per month to the effort.

Fresno First Steps Home will coordinate a “housing-first” model that is aimed at connecting participants with services, starting with outreach, assessment, housing wrap-around case management and supportive services to move to independence, self-sufficiency and permanent housing.

The Fresno First Steps Home board of directors held its initial meeting on July 14, selecting Tom Richards as chairman.

The announcement came as the City observed the one-year anniversary of the closing of the former H Street homeless encampment. A year ago, 103 homeless individuals were moved directly to transitional housing, and 80 percent of those remain off the street and are on their way to independence and self-sufficiency, Mayor Swearengin said.

For more information on the initiative or to donate online, please visit www.FresnoFirstStepsHome.org.

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