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City Hall finally putting muscle behind homelessness rhetoric

INTO THE ABYSS

“We’re up here to Olive,” I said into my recorder. “But let me tell you – that mile stretch between Divisadero and Olive – that is most unpleasant at night when it’s dark. I’m NOT doing that again.”

I didn’t use my recorder once during the mile-long walk to Olive Avenue. I was too busy looking over my shoulder, side to side and straight ahead. I certainly didn’t use my flashlight. I didn’t want anyone to know I was there.

The Lowell neighborhood is on the west side of Blackstone. The Yokomi neighborhood is on the easts side. Both neighborhoods are identified in the Mayor’s Restore Fresno initiative as key areas for all sorts of redevelopment.

That means they rough neighborhoods.

What’s so scary about being a 65-year-old man walking by himself on Blackstone between Divisadero and Olive at 8 o’clock on a cold winter night?

It’s terribly dark on that stretch. There’s not much traffic – cars go south on Blackstone while northbound cars are on Abby, a block to the east. Almost all of the businesses are closed. You can hear nearby voices, but you can’t see the speakers. You’ve read over the years all the crime stories in The Bee that occur in this area. In fact, you’ve covered murders in this area for The Bee. Worst of all, you’ve got nowhere to go if you get into trouble.

At the same time, you tell yourself, this is Blackstone – the Boulevard of Dreams. This is a major street in Fresno, once THE major street. Why shouldn’t you be able to walk Blackstone when you want to, and be safe and secure the whole time?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Here’s the reality – the only way to travel Blackstone between Divisadero and Olive at night is in a car. And the miracle that changes such reality won’t happen in my lifetime.

George Hostetter is The Sun’s Fresno Civic contributor – covering the City of Fresno, County of Fresno, and Fresno Council of Governments.

2 Comments

  1. What about addressing private efforts to assist homeless people like the Eco Village Project’s Dakota EcoGarden, and our mission to build a village like the ones in Oregon, Washington, Texas, New Mexico, etc. How about the merits of the city joining forces for a public/private coalition to respond to the homeless problem? The city turns a blind eye to private resources like the Dakota EcoGarden and won’t put any skin in the game. You know, the city doesn’t a lock on answers to the problem. Brainstorming with dedicated groups who have put their money, blood, sweat, and tears into helping homeless people might be just what the city needs to refine its perspective and come up with a diffrent or modified game plan.

  2. There’s a huge disconnect here. What happened to the 1300 who visited MapPoint?. I personally know many, including mentally ill folks, who have not been helped with housing. So how does it help to put more staff at map point? Someone needs to get on the job of actually finding or making the housing happen. One point that needs to be acknowledged is that homeless folks may refuse housing that they see as being in the middle of drug infested neighborhoods and/or housing that requires them to get rid of beloved pets.

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