Officials demand Fresno County deliver resources to vulnerable communities

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FRESNO, California (KGPE) — State, city, and community leaders spoke out against the Fresno Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The group, including Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula, Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias, Kingsburg City Councilmember Jewel Hurtado, and Firebaugh City Councilmember Felipe Perez, demanded testing, housing, and food resources for underserved communities.

“Every day I receive phone calls from families asking for support,” said Marinarde Soto with Central Valley Mutual Aid. “Asking — hoping we have some funds left to help for rent and utilities.”

“Our county is on fire because the virus is on fire. We the people are fuel,” Arambula said. “I came here with a clear message. To do your job and to protect your community.”

Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias threatened the supervisors to use a portion of county’s federal funding for basic needs including housing and food resources for essential workers — especially farmworkers. He said if they do not, he will make a call to Sacramento.

“If not, the city will have no choice but to speak to the governor and ask the governor to intervene,” Arias said.

In April, the county was awarded over $80 million in CARES Act funds for COVID-19 relief. As of last week, the county had physically spent about half.

Fresno County, with the help of the state, has handed out around 800,000 medical and N95 masks to farmworkers. During the supervisors’ regularly scheduled meeting, Supervisor Brian Pachecho said in two weeks, he will have two additional COVID-19 proposals. One for $5,000 grants for minority and women-owned businesses struggling during the pandemic, and the second — a renters assistance program for essential workers.

“I am looking about a million for more to help with these programs but again I will make the proposal and then it will be up to my colleagues to finish it because we generally do things as a team effort,” Pacheco said.

The supervisors also gave $10 million to the county’s jail, which had a COIVID-19 outbreak in July.

Chair Buddy Mendes argues that education is the biggest issue for the county in terms of the spread of the virus, especially when it comes to gatherings and lack of social distancing.

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