City Hall finally putting muscle behind homelessness rhetoric

After 10 months, the business model of Fresno’s homelessness program is failing. George Hostetter finds out why.


The Swearengin Administration is moving fast to spend the $520,000. Kelli Furtado, the Mayor’s deputy chief of staff, spent much of last week preparing a “request for proposal.” This will generate ideas from the social-services world for finding and using the seven case managers.


The winner(s) gets the money and much of the responsibility for moving MAP Point at the Pov to the next level.

Council Member (now President) Caprioglio at the Dec. 17 meeting told Dewey and the Pov’s Avila that he eventually wants details on how this new venture is doing.

Caprioglio said he needs something “so I can tell our constituents we really are trying. Because they don’t feel it or see it right now.”

Council Member Lee Brand was among those who voted to spend the $520,000 on the case managers. He’s running this year to succeed the termed out Swearengin. H. Spees so far is his only confirmed opponent.

Brand said the growing presence of the homeless – or those pretending to be homeless as cover for more sinister activities – in once stable neighborhoods is a hot-button topic whenever he meets with voters.

“There is no easy solution,” Brand said. “Sgt. Dewey and his team are doing the best they can. It’s a matter of resources.”

Dewey and his officers find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. As he told me, he was trained to be a cop, not a social worker, yet the latter job has been handed to him.

“The heartbreaking part is there are people out there who don’t want our help,” Dewey told me. “They’re perfectly content to be where they’re at. That’s where the frustration comes from. That’s where we’ve hit the wall. What do we do?

“Because the sad reality is their choices are impacting a lot more people than just themselves. And as many times as I try to explain this to those folks – because of mental illness, because of substance abuse – the message is just not getting through.”

  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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