There are roughly 4,400 homeless people in the city of Fresno. One out of four fall in the category of “sheltered homeless”. They’re the ones who live in places like motels, without a permanent address.
CBS47’s Zara Arboleda spoke with several families now staying at the Fresno Inn, off Highway 99 and Clinton Avenue.
Valencia Thompson and her three children share a very cramped and dark room. It contains two dirty mattresses, a mini-fridge and a hot plate. The only light comes from the bathroom and the television set. They’ve lived here since October. Thompson pays $530 a month.
Her goal is to get into an apartment, but she can’t come up with first and last month rent plus security deposit. She’s tried applying for help through homeless programs, but has been unsuccessful. “They can't help me 'cuz I stay in a motel room. I ain't homeless because I stay at a motel room and I pay rent… but I am homeless," said Thompson.
Fresno’s Homeless Prevention Manager is Gregory Barfield. He says his budget from City Hall is only $115,000 a year. That translates into $26 per homeless person. More money comes from Fresno County and the federal government, but he says it’s not nearly enough. So he’s directs families like the Thompson’s to call 2-1-1.
That number connects people to the United Way Call Center in Fresno County, which is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Operators have access to 650 agencies and 1,700 programs that can assist with everything from housing emergencies to food shortages to daycare issues. The agency took 18,000 calls last year, the majority of them asking for housing assistance.
Valencia Thompson hopes someone can help her family soon. She said, “I just keep thinking, you know, things are going to get better soon. Hopefully, it’s a brand new year and everything will get better soon.”
For more information on homeless resources, emergency shelters and other program, please click on the related links.