Fresno City Council clashes over mayoral candidate’s plan for homeless services

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FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — Mayoral candidate Jerry Dyer says he has a plan to help the homeless in Fresno, but not everyone is on board.

Some city council members held a press conference Wednesday to voice their opposition, while others expressed their support.

Dyer’s plan is to put navigation centers, or transitional shelters, downtown. The navigation centers would provide various services and would be intended for people to stay 90 to 120 days and then transition into alternative or affordable housing.

Dyer says it makes sense for the shelters to be on G Street, where much of the city’s homeless population is already concentrated.

“What I am proposing is that we implement navigation centers and bridge housing so that we can reach out homeless,” said Dyer. “This seems to be a logical place for that – the Rescue Mission, the Poverello house – because of the existing services that are already provided here, as well as food.”

His opponent Andrew Janz says it’s not that simple.

“It’s not only about providing shelters and providing folks with services, but it’s about prevention and making sure people don’t fall into homelessness in the first place,” said Janz.

Some council members say they would prefer smaller triage centers around the city.

“If we’re truly one Fresno, every single neighborhood is going to step up and be part of the solution and not just expect the southern part of the city to be burdened by the crisis that is before us,” said District 1 Council Member Esmeralda Soria.

“If the highest concentration of the disadvantaged and the homeless happen to be in a certain area of town where the services are like the Rescue Mission or Naomi’s House, then it would save taxpayer money by actually addressing the problem where it stands, not moving the problem to other parts of this town,” said District 2 Council Member Mike Karbassi.

“The fact is we have homeless throughout the city. We have services that are in the downtown area, that’s where the services are, that’s where we want to provide them,” said District 6 Council Member Garry Bredefeld,

Bredefeld says the plan is a step towards addressing homelessness in the city, but it won’t solve the bigger problem.

“We can talk about shelters, we can talk about triage centers, all of those are important, but if you really want to get at the root, we shouldn’t allow people to be living on the street,” said Bredefeld.

He says changing the laws at the state level is the only solution.

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