Thinking Out Loud

Current State: Poverty in Fresno

By Theagarajan_CML

Homefront Update: Poverty in Fresno

This week’s post hits a little closer to home. I attended a panel discussion just last week on the topic of poverty in Fresno and its current state in our Central Valley.
It’s no secret that Fresno has a homeless issue.
Just pull up to the In-N-Out in Riverpark and you’ll see a number of homeless people camped on every corner of Blackstone and Nees. The poverty line seems to be moving up and you have to wonder: what is actually happening to Fresno’s homeless community?

Various polls have been conducted over the past ten years rating the country’s number one city for concentrated homeless communities; and Fresno has always been ranked number one. What a sad realization.

At a recent panel discussion in downtown Fresno on Oct. 12, Mayor Ashley Swearengin, along with executives from Povarello House and Bitwise, discussed the current state of poverty in Fresno, stating that the poverty line that once was Shaw Avenue, is now moving towards the northern side of town.

Does this mean that the tent cities and communities are being disbanded at a higher rate in recent years? It would seem that way due the alarming rise in homeless people popping up in unexpected areas of town, like Champlain and Perrin for example.

Swearengin said that even despite this rise, Fresno is making progress in the fight to eliminate poverty with efforts that will support more child care, transportation vouchers, psychological counseling, job placements and making tent communities more sustainable so people have a place to sleep at night.

The “happy” news at the panel discussion was that Fresno is no longer the number one city for high poverty concentration: it is now number two. It’s hard to applaud such a stat but even the smallest improvement is for the better.
What I realized is that ultimately it is in our own hands, as it should be. This can’t just be solved on a legislative level. Sure local government officials can implement new laws and regulations to help the homeless– great. But what can we do as citizens is the main question and requires further examination.

I think this is a city-wide issue. Once we all start pitching in to help eliminate this problem, we could see some pretty amazing results. Supporting our local organizations both monetary and relational is imperative. Helping people to rebuild a foundation for their lives is huge and is one of the most profound ways to give back.

We still have a long way to go, but for people interested in getting involved, check out the Povarello House in Fresno and various other shelters and groups to see how you can get involved and be a part of the change.

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