Bredefeld claps back at homeless, enablers: get off drugs, take responsibility

Routine bellyaching from homeless and their handlers drew a tongue lashing from one Fresno lawmaker on Thursday.

Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld has a terse message for a growing cadre of homeless people and handlers who bark at lawmakers , alleging the city does not do enough for them. 

Bredefeld called on them to assume responsibility for their own lives and to stop using drugs to turn their lives around. 

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Driving the news: Oftentimes during city council meetings a number of homeless people and homeless advocates will address Fresno lawmakers during public comment, often complaining about the city’s homeless response team and criticizing taxpayer-funded meals provided.

  • On Thursday, the city’s Homeless Assistance Response Team (HART) was the target of many from the public who addressed the council. 
  • The HART team, which was formed two years ago, is tasked with making contact with the homeless and responds to calls from the public regarding the homeless. 
  • Many people who spoke called the HART team heartless, criticizing the team for throwing belongings away. 
  • Local homelessness advocate Dez Martinez said the HART team is “literally beating us up.” 

The big picture: Following public comment, which came shortly before the city council approved the $2 billion budget, Bredefeld came to the defense of the HART Team, saying it is doing an excellent job. 

  • Mayor Jerry Dyer said the city has spent hundreds of millions of dollars for housing the homeless and has $15 million allocated in the budget this year. 
  • The city has 800 people in emergency shelters, which comes out to $20,000 being spent for each homeless person who has sought help. 
  • Dyer also said the city offers 200 showers every week to the homeless on the streets through its mobile shower units, which also provides undergarments. 
  • The city also works with UCSF for a medical team to provide services to the homeless after their showers. 
  • City shelters offer two meals every day, counseling services and transportation to the DMV and job interviews. 

What they’re saying: “The city of Fresno’s spending hundreds of millions of dollars on housing, yet these same folks come here demanding that we’re not doing enough, we’re not helping them, portraying themselves as victims every time they come here,” Bredefeld said. “And the reality is I would suggest to those of you who feel the city’s not doing enough, help yourself. Do some things to help yourself. Stop coming here demanding that the city give you more, give you more as we spend hundreds of millions of dollars to help you. Figure out how you can help yourself.” 

  • Bredefeld said as a clinical psychologist he has never seen anybody get better who did not accept responsibility in life. 
  • “I’ve never seen anybody get off of drugs until they’ve accepted responsibility to get off of drugs,” Bredefeld said. “I’ve never seen anybody stop committing crimes until they’ve said, ‘I’ve had enough of going to jail.’ You come here every week demanding that we do more. And we’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars providing housing, very effectively.” 
  • Bredefeld said the homeless can go to the county for further help, which is mandated to provide social services. 
  • “If you want it, it’s there,” Bredefeld said. “If you don’t want it, you can come here and continue to portray yourselves as victims. We cannot do it all. We cannot help you unless you’re willing to help yourself.” 
  • He also revealed that he was homeless when he was 18 years old before taking out a $50,000 loan for school to get a degree. 
  • “If I blamed everybody else for my problems, I guarantee you I would not be sitting here today,” Bredefeld said. 
  • Martinez interrupted Bredefeld multiple times, causing Council President Annalisa Perea to have the police remove her from the meeting. 
  • “Stop doing drugs,” Bredefeld said. “Stop abusing yourself. Stop complaining. Accept responsibility for your life. Coming here every week demanding that we give you more and more and we’re not doing enough and you’re just the victim will never turn your life around.” 

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