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City of Fresno Prepares to Clear Tent City

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The city of Fresno is moving forward with plans to clear a homeless encampment at Ventura and F Street. Officials said Wednesday they'll clear the vacant lot Thursday morning, even though many of the homeless men and women living there say they have no where to go.

The city filed a lawsuit to clear the encampment claiming it was a health and safety hazard, but the case faced delays because the property owner couldn't be found. The city asked that the lawsuit be dismissed Wednesday, after a property owner came forward. The city now claims it is enforcing that property owner's rights and removing trespassers.

Hours after learning of the city's plans, there were still no signs that any of the homeless men and women were leaving. "We only have about 13 hours to get all of this cleaned up, and get all of our belongings moved out of here. Where are supposed to put it? Because no matter where we put it, they're going to do the same thing again," said resident Alan Simon.

Advocates and attorneys representing the homeless are questioning who really owns property. They said the city is wasting resources by failing to deal with the bigger issue. "These folks are right because as soon as they move out of here, they're going to be over at some other location, at some other encampment, and the city is going to be repeating the same type of action," said Central California Legal Services Executive Director Chris Schneider.

"It's as if the city wants them to disappear and cease to exist. That's not going to happen," said homeless advocate Mike Rhodes.

The city claims it has been working with the homeless residents to get them housing and medical assistance. It has $3 million dollars in federal funds, but said many of the residents haven't applied for help. "Those dollars and those services are available today, but at some point, the individual has to make a conscious decision to take advantage of those services," said assistant city manager Bruce Rudd.

Whatever personal items that are taken from the property will be stored for up to 90 days. The big question now is where the residents will go. There has been some talk about taking the encampment to city hall in order to pressure the city to find a real solution.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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fresno, local, amanda perez
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