Invisible Population: A Look At Homelessness In Fresno (Series II)

Imagine being forced to pack up your “home” and having to relocate almost daily. This has become the routine for Fresno residents lacking consistent shelter.

There are an estimated 2,000 homeless people living in the City of Fresno. Those who cannot be sheltered don’t have many options other than to set up a shelter in vacant homes or areas out of public view with little foot traffic. 

The Fresno Homeless Task Force (HTF) breaks up encampments by first approaching trespassers and assessing whether they are violating any laws or have warrants. Then HTF allows them to collect valuable property before being asked to leave. Although the HTF offer social service connections when breaking up encampments, shelter space is usually at full capacity, and some choose to refuse the help because they don’t want to meet certain requirements. Consequently, this forces them to fend for themselves rather than receiving the help they should be getting.

As a result of having to pack up and leave abruptly, trash, food and belongings remain left behind – further affecting the perception of homeless encampment areas in the city. 

Last year, homelessness was made a priority in Fresno as reported by The Fresno Bee in Fresno makes ‘good first step’ to address homeless crisis.” The city is now in the middle of adding more 24-hour low barrier shelters. These spaces are needed to protect the homeless from harm, including harsh weather in both the summer and winter. 

Until the city can provide enough sanctuary, this is the reality of what is to live without a regular home.

Gabriel E. Cortez (he/him/his)

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