FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – During Thursday’s Fresno City Council meeting, three council members proposed declaring a local state of emergency to address affordable housing and homelessness – an issue that is evident with an encampment set up behind River Park shopping center in north Fresno.

YourCentralValley.com contacted the property owner about the encampment in the back of the shopping center on Tuesday with no response. On Wednesday the City of Fresno revealed that a representative of the property owner had contacted the city’s Homeless Assistance Response Team (HART) and that they were working to bring a resolution to this encampment while providing services.

A request for comment from the operators of River Park was not answered by the time of publication.

Fresno’s HART team is made up of employees from the Poverello House, code enforcement, as well as a group of officers from the Fresno Police Department. They ensure public safety within the unhoused community, do cleanups, and assist property owners.

As of Thursday afternoon, the encampment was still up behind the parking structure at River Park. At the same time, inside Fresno City Hall, Fresno City Councilmembers Luis Chavez, Miguel Arias, and Annalisa Perea were discussing declaring a local state of emergency to address the affordable housing crisis and homelessness.

The three council members voiced ideas including speeding up the permitting process for affordable housing or using the Selland Area or Convention Center as a shelter for the City of Fresno. At the end of the discussion, no action was taken on declaring a state of emergency.

In a statement from the City of Fresno to YourCentralValley.com, it stated that it is Mayor Jerry Dyer’s goal to end chronic street homelessness, and that is only possible with the community’s partnership. City officials encourage residents to call 3-1-1 when they see a homeless encampment so that their HART team can respond accordingly.