Fresno hopes to clean up highway homeless encampments in 60 days

Local News

FRESNO, California (KSEE) -Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer’s Project Off-Ramp is beginning to take shape. The goal is to clear homeless encampments from Fresno’s highways and provide resources to the homeless so they can find permanent, affordable housing.

At a Tuesday news conference near a homeless encampment on Sierra Avenue and Highway 41, the mayor provided an update on the program, which kicked off on Jan. 22. He says just over a dozen people have taken advantage of the program so far.

“The goal is to get them the services they need, for them to become productive, start earning an income, and then paying for their own room,” Dyer said.

Dyer was accompanied by representatives from Fresno’s Poverello House, which will work with the city to feed homeless people during Project Off-Ramp relocation. Dyer says this effort is a long-time coming, especially considering the safety of those living in highway homeless encampments and the community at large.

We had 618 fires on our freeways that our Fresno Fire Department responded to last year,” Dyer said. “We also had three homeless people who had been struck and killed by cars on our freeways in a two week period.”

The three-week-old program has a bold mission: to partner with California Highway Patrol and local law enforcement to clear encampments from all highways passing through Fresno within the next 60 days, and provide the people who live in them a path to affordable housing.

“On [Highway] 41, by the end of next week, you will not see anymore tents,” Dyer said.

Rocky Williams lives not far from where the mayor held his news conference at Highway 41 and Sierra Ave. Williams says he had been living in highway camps for the past two months, but on Wednesday was packed up, and moving into temporary housing as part of the Project Off-Ramp program.

“Thanks to the mayor and Poverello House for doing this,” Williams said. “You wouldn’t have anything going on. There’s no second choice here.”

Williams says he worked as an electrician for decades and hopes Project Off Ramp can provide him the fresh start he needs.

A chance to re-establish a house, things like that,” Williams said. ” I’ve got my retirement coming, my pension, things like that from the electrical union. I just need a place to get it started.”

Mayor Dyer speaks with Rocky Williams in a homeless encampment on Hwy 41
(Image courtesy of the City of Fresno)

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