City officials held closed meeting to address sanitation and overcrowding at homeless camps

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FRESNO, California (KSEE) – On Monday Fresno city officials held a closed meeting to address sanitation and overcrowding at homeless camps during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Options include deploying sanitation stations on the streets and moving some of the homeless into empty motel rooms. ​

“Everything is on the table when it comes to trying to help our unsheltered homeless not be victimized by the virus,” said Council President Miguel Arias. “So what we have started with is was stations that are in organizations that help the homeless. I anticipate in the next couple of days, that we will make wash stations available to the general public so people including our homeless can wash their hands.” ​

H. Spees, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Mayor Lee Brand, said on Monday Governor Gavin Newsom awarded $2 million to Fresno regarding this issue. ​

“We are developing strategies right now,” said Spees. “In fact, we right now are putting people into homes, into rooms before there is a budget and before the money arrives with the assurance that all of this is a public health emergency. We are working together, we are going to save lives.” ​ 

Activist Des Martinez spoke at the before the meeting to speak about what she saw on Sunday when she fed those in need. ​

“Last night we did a headcount,” said Martinez. “Just on Santa Clara 243. Two hundred forty-three people in just one block radius.” ​Martinez said she was inspired by the homeless community’s togetherness in the crisis, but concerned by the lack of sanitation and social distancing at the camps. ​

On her shirt, she wears a collage of pictures with the words ‘we are not invisible’ to remind people of the homeless population matters. ​

“Just to see the way they are taking care of each other right now when everyone has forgot about them,” said Martinez. “It is beautiful but it hurts. It really hurts. I wish everyone could see how they are helping each other when everyone else forgot.”​The council did not come up with a concrete plan on Monday but Arias said it will be coming soon. ​

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