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City cleans up homeless encampments in Central Fresno

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fresno city crews went to work demolishing what used to be shelters for the homeless.

"A lot of these people just don't know where to go," said Patch, an advocate for the homeless. "Literally they run out of places to go."

During the past few months, the city of Fresno dismantled three different camps.

This time, they focused on an area behind the grain silos, private land near the railroad tracks and Highway 180. Two separate encampments had popped up.

City of Fresno Press Secretary Michael Lukens said, "We've known about this for a while we knew people were moved out of the other encampments downtown that they were going to go somewhere and it seemed to be a place that they were headed."

The homeless were given an 11 day notice to pack up and leave. The city says the illegal structures brought crime, as well as health and safety issues.

More than a dozen advocates gathered at the cleanup Wednesday morning. The situation became tense and the police showed up after one person became upset.

Fresno pastor and homeless advocate Chris Breedlove said, "Their belongings, their personal affects, whatever little hope they have, they're clinging to. This is very difficult."

Pastor Breedlove says while city crews cleaned up one homeless site, his advocates were staying put at the other encampment. He and others believe the clearing of the camps is not fixing any problems.

"This is their community, this is their stability and we're going to stand in between them and the bulldozer," Pastor Breedlove said.

City officials estimate the cleanup will take a day, but with the controversy over between two sides it could take some time.

The homeless are legally allowed to sleep in public places, but not set up a shelter in the city.

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Tags:
fresno county, fresno, fresno central, fresno downtown, homeless, local, amanda venegas
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