Homeless people have it hard enough, don’t you think? Fresno City Council doesn’t seem to understand that. In a 6-1 vote on August 17th, the Unhealthy and Hazardous Camping Act was passed. This gives the Fresno Police Department (FPD) the right to arrest homeless people seen camping on public and private property.
Esmeralda Soria seems to be the only council member with a working moral compass, as she was the only one to vote no. Arresting homeless people for trying to sleep safely on a park bench or in a small tent under an overpass is ridiculous.
Not all homeless people choose to be homeless and not one of them could ever pay a $1000 fine to avoid 6 months of jail. It is immoral to detain these people who are already suffering. The FPD should be taking action to help the homeless in our community, not arresting them.
While Fresno has homeless shelters, they fill up every night and the people who don’t get in have to resort to camping outside. Which is now a criminal offense. The only other option these individuals have is something called MAP Point.
MAP Point is a clearinghouse for housing, shelter, health and social services based at the Poverello House. This could be a great alternative for some homeless people who could not find shelter or were told their shelter had already met capacity. But, it should not be the only alternative.
Fresno has a problem with people who want to be homeless drifters. The city is trying to stop them from living the way they want to, which is unconstitutional. In America, everyone has the freedom to do almost anything they want. If these people want to drift, let them.
Arresting homeless people is actually going to make Fresno worse. The jails will be more crowded than they already are. There are an estimated 1,351 homeless people in Fresno right now.
Imagine taxpayers, you would have to cough up the money to pay for their incarceration. Do you want to pay to keep innocent people behind bars? I’d rather put criminals in jail and keep dangerous people out of our communities.
The Unhealthy and Hazardous Camping Act is already becoming a law. It’s immoral, unconstitutional, and costing us money. Homeless people have it hard enough, why make their lives worse?
On Friday, September 29th this law will be implemented throughout Fresno and law enforcement will be authorized to begin arrests. At 9 p.m. on Friday local activists will be hosting a sit in to protest the ordinance in front of City Hall. You can find more information on the protest here.