Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin held a press conference at city hall Monday afternoon to herald a new report depicting a dramatic decrease in the area’s homeless population.
Flanked by representatives of the Fresno Madera Continuum of Care (FMCoC), Swearengin announced the results of the 2015 Point in Time Report, which was compiled by members of the FMCoC.
“This report is very encouraging,” the mayor said. “We’ve seen a dramatic reduction in people living on the street.”
The 2015 report showed a 40 percent decrease in the number of area homeless compared to 2014’s survey results.
In January 2015 when the survey was conducted, a total of 814 “unsheltered” homeless individuals were counted in Fresno.
In 2014, 1,534 unsheltered homeless people were recorded in the survey and in 2013, there were 1,829.
The reduction in Fresno and Madera counties’ overall unsheltered homeless population was equally as dramatic, dropping from a total of 2,537 in 2013 to 1,183 tallied in this year’s survey.
And the number of homeless living in area shelters also declined in 2015, according to the FMCoC survey.
In 2014, a total of 714 people were living in area homeless shelters. The 2015 survey counted 539 individuals living in Fresno and Madera county shelters in January.
In recent years, Fresno has been recognized on a national level for its efforts to combat homelessness and Mayor Swearengin credited the various agencies that make up the FMCoC with Monday’s upbeat report results.
“We knew we couldn’t just disperse people living on the street,” the mayor said. “We had to work together to get them the services and help they needed.”
The FMCoC is an organized consortium of partners that works with homeless service providers, advocacy groups and government agencies to address the needs of the area’s homeless population.
Jody Ketcheside, chair of the FMCoC, and Preston Prince, executive director and CEO of the Fresno Housing Authority, also spoke briefly at the press conference.
Prince lauded Mayor Swearengin for “championing” the fight to reduce homelessness in the area.
“Over the past five years, with the mayor’s leadership, we’ve made a community-wide paradigm shift,” Prince said. “This survey shows we really are making an impact here.”
The mayor agreed. “In Fresno, we’re just not going to say it’s OK for people to be living on the street,” Swearengin said.