FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – West Fresno residents are fed up after they claim social services have been stripped from their neighborhoods.
Dozens of West Fresno residents shared their frustrations after they claimed they have had to travel all the way to Clovis because services were taken away from the West Fresno Department of Social Services campus on East California Avenue.
“This is the calamity of poor people,” said Fresno native and resident Avis Braggs. “We have to deal with so much and now we have to deal with leaving our community.”
Braggs said she broke her back while working for Family Dollar several years ago.
For years, she would walk down the street from her home to the West Fresno Department of Social Services campus but she claims she now has to travel around 10 miles to the Social Services campus in Clovis. On a bus, that takes over an hour.
“Are they going to bring the services back,” said Braggs. “What are they hanging on to? What are we hanging on to? We are holding on to? A thread that breaks everything when they take something from West Fresno. Mine broke.”
Braggs and dozens of others held signs as they voiced similar concerns about the center that officers welfare and employment services.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, all county departments were scared back due to the lockdown.
As things started to reopen, the county fast-tracked new technology such as kiosks, drop boxes, and self-serve computers but reduced the number of employees assisting residents due to the lack of demand.
“We had a whole team that was coming out twice a week but we weren’t getting the volume so, in a 3-month period, we had received 6 applications,” said Fresno County Deputy Director of Eligibility Services Linda Duchene.
Fresno County County Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau said if residents were sent to Clovis it was a mistake. He promised an employee would be available in the future to help anyone in need daily.
“As the leader of the county,” said Rousseau. “I can assure you that this department will do whatever it takes to satisfy the need of this community and most importantly the level of services in this office far exceed what was ever here before.”
The county plans on holding public forums in the future to open up communication about issues residents face. The resident has filed a complaint with the state regarding the issue.