FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – A Fresno neighborhood concerned for their families’ safety is begging for help after a homeless encampment has taken over a section of their neighborhood near Parkway Drive.
“Ashamed,” said Armando Renovato, who lives near Warren and Thomas avenues. “It makes me feel ashamed to live in this neighborhood and I shouldn’t have to feel shame in a home that I grew up in.”
Renovato has lived near Parkway Drive his entire life, but in the past few months since the city purchased old motels to house the homeless he said an encampment has come in and taken over.
“Since the project has taken off, it (the encampment) exploded and it has gotten really bad,” he said.
Renovato said often homeless will shower in his uncle’s front yard.
“They are bathing with the water hose, they are stealing water in jugs,” Renovato. “He had a chainsaw from his garage stolen so now we are forced to have locks on our gates at night and we have installed a camera system so we are doing everything in our power but we feel like we are not being supported.”
Renovato said that he has called the city several times over safety concerns, including the encampment being close to a school bus stop but he said nothing has been done.
“I feel like because we are by the motels and because we are off of Belmont and the 99 and this is not the greatest area they feel like they can push it under the rug and ignore us,” said Renovato.
Fresno Director of Housing and Homeless H. Spees said overall, Project Home Key has been positive with human trafficking in the area down 30% and Narcotics-related crime down 60%.
“We are having a great impact on the neighborhood,” said Spees. “Unfortunately, right now there is a homeless encampment in the back of one of our homeless shelters.”
Spees said because the encampment is on private property, the city has to follow a specific protocol including finding the property owner, notifying them of the encampment, and giving them enough time to clean it up.
“If the property doesn’t do that then the city will do it and the cost will be to the property owner,” said Spees.
Spees promised the neighborhood that help is on the way and the encampment will be cleaned up but asked residents to be patient.
As each day passes, Renovato says he is losing hope.
“I will believe it when I see it,” said Renovato. “I have little faith in the city taking action right now.”
The city said residents should expect the encampment to be cleaned up in the next few weeks and said a team will set up a perimeter in the area to make sure no other encampments pop up in the future.