Fresno area leaders announce plan to help homeless during pandemic

News

FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Fresno’s city and county leaders have teamed up and pooled resources to help the homeless population during the coronavirus pandemic.

H Spees, the City of Fresno’s Director of Strategic Initiatives called it a “crisis within a crisis.”

“There’s a crisis with homelessness that’s not only gripping our city but the whole state and our country – but now we have the crisis of COVID-19.”

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Area leaders and local organizations announced that they are banding together Wednesday.

“We recognize the fact that our homeless are the most vulnerable population that we have here in Fresno County,” Supervisor Nathan Magsig said.

There are now approximately 30 hand-washing stations available around homeless shelters, with more are on the way.

“We know that our city parks are used by our homeless population frequently. So you’ll see some wash stations pop up at our city parks,” Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias said.

Magsig said they are working with the 14 cities within the county as well, as Madera County, to address the needs and health of the homeless community.

“I”m proud to say that we’re working in a collaborative fashion to move as quickly as possible to flatten the curve,” District 1 Councilmember Esmeralda Soria said.

Fresno County Board of Supervisors this week approved a plan to open 300 beds, which they said are now about half full.

Leaders are now trying to lock in hotel partnerships for those who cannot share a room.

“The reason we’re using hotels room is because that will give us an opportunity to isolate those folks that are pending test results or have been identified as COVID positive but do not require hospitalization,” Fresno County Principal Administrative Analyst Sonia De La Rosa said.

Existing shelters are also reserving vacant beds for this purpose.

“We know that we have a lot more homeless than we have rooms for currently, but we are prioritizing as many as possible to make sure that they are contained and protected from the spread of the epidemic,” Arias said.

Elected officials are now looking to identify additional resources to increase the number of people they’ll be able to house, and are hoping these collaborative efforts work.

“It’s a crisis which does not discriminate against any groups it affects all of us together, and as you can see behind me we are working together,” Magsig said.

Arias said the private sector has already stepped up to volunteer facilities. Fresno City Council also put a temporary hold on evictions to make sure more people don’t become homeless.

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