Call to Action: Support the Safe Camp

Please help us as we are asking the Fresno City Council and the City of Fresno to sanction our safe camp so we can provide security, to sell us surplus city land for a new safe camp in a safe location, and support the camp with the requested needs. We need people to write and call the city council members as soon as possible, show support on public comment, and attend the Fresno City Council meeting on Thursday, April 22 to speak up in support of the safe camp at the city council meeting.

Zoom link is here:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_k9v6BEVSS9iZBITNDoHIzg

Heres how you can help:

  1. Sign and share our petition here
  2. We need people to write and call the city council members as soon as possible, show support on public comment, and attend the Fresno City Council meeting on Thursday, April 22 to speak up in support of the safe camp at the city council meeting. 
  3. Share with others!

    Info on how to submit comments and key talking points below

Background

WANI met with city staff with a proposal that included security measures such as clearing the surrounding area surrounding the camp, since the homeless who reside there engage in problematic and criminal activities which affect the camp residents.. A budget was also proposed to help fund needed items (tents, mobile shower/laundry unit, stipends for volunteers/staffing, etc.) and in-kind services (e.g.PPE,  vaccination education and provision, improved cooperation with FPD).

How You Can Help

We ask that supporters of We Are Not Invisible write to the City Council sharing how you have seen or contributed to our efforts and how it has made a difference in the lives of our Camp Residents or other homeless community members. Your Specific experiences are appreciated!  If at all possible, please also attend the City Council meeting on April 22, to speak during the public comment time. (Instructions on how to submit written or oral public comments are below). 

Important Note:  We are waiting for confirmation of WANI/homeless issues to be on the agenda as originally planned. Hopefully, this will be confirmed on Monday, April 18th. In any case, your written submission of support would be appreciated. 

Key talking point suggestions:

  • Request that the City sanction the camp &/or identifies surplus City land to lease (and sanction) to WANI: for $1.00 a year, with the option of granting the land to WANI if the year project is determined to be of benefit to the City. This may seem like a big ask, but keep in mind that a similar lease is in place with the Chaffee Zoo and in our case, the cost savings to the City for services provided is estimated to be at a minimum of $500,000 per year. 
  • Given the lack of shelters to place all our homeless community members, the Safe Camp is an expedient, humane, and viable way to provide at least basic needs for many of these folks and reduces deaths, injuries, health risks, public health problems and the need for emergency services.. Estimates indicate there are over 1,000 plus people who became homeless during the pandemic and that number is expected to grow to another 1,000.
  • The Safe Camp has proven to be a safe, temporary “home” for people to decompress and stabilize from the harsh street conditions, and helps them prepare to enter into more permanent shelters/housing, and potential employment.
  • The WANI Safe Camp, volunteers and community supporters ensure basic human rights are met for the residents, which contributes to their well-being and ability to make positive self improvement. The residents themselves contribute to the overall function and benefits of the camp community. Below are a list of basic features and functions of the camp:
    • Sanitation and hygiene resources, like portable toilets, wash stations, trash cans, hygiene items, etc.
    • Clean tents, cots, sleeping bags
    • A common kitchen area with a pantry for safe, hygienic food preparation and community dining area for social interaction
    • Garden area,recreation space, quiet tent, and other amenities for rest and healthy activities.
    • Sharing chores to ensure the camp is clean, safe, and well run. This has helped residents feel useful and productive and gives them a sense of belonging
    • Access to resources via partners, donors volunteers ( e.g clothing, hot meals, assistance with laundry, connection to medical and other resources)
    • Relational support and space for healthy relationships with fellow residents and volunteers.
  • It appears that the City does not want to enter into an MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) with the State of California (current camp is on CalTrans property)    which would formalize the arrangement of the camp in the current location. Without such agreement, it is not possible for us to obtain Security services. By their refusal, the city is fermenting the increase of crime affecting camp and contributes to police hesitation to intervene when issues arise, as they question the legitimacy of our residence. The only other solution is for the City to designate a city-owned property for our use ( and potential to purchase) that we would need them to  sanction, as mentioned above. 

How to send a letter of support/public comment:

Join the City Council meeting: You can register to join the meeting and speak during the item here: :

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_k9v6BEVSS9iZBITNDoHIzg

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Call into the meeting here: Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):     

US: +1 669 900 9128 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 558 8656

Webinar ID: 925 7320 5903

The  Fresno City Council meeting starts at 9:00am. Speak during the Unscheduled communication portion, which is after the Mayor’s Comments. Email info@wanif.org to be on a contact list to be notified when the item comes forward. 

To email/call in your support, contact the council members and mayor at these addresses. You can contact as many as you want.

Mayor, Jerry Dyer, 621-8000 jerry.dyer@fresno.gov

District 1, Esmeralda Soria, Contituent line 621-7817, esmeralda.soria@fresno.gov

District 2, Mike Karbassi, Constituent line 621-7821, mike.karbassi@fresno.gov

District 3. Migual Arias, Constituent line 621- 7832, miguel.arias@fresno.gov

District 4, Tyler Maxwell, Assistant’s number,  Nabil 621-7846,  tyler.maxwell@fresno.gov

District 5, Luis Chavez, Assistant’s number, Lucio 621-7854 

Jose 621-7876, luis.chavez@fresno.gov

District 6, Garry Bredefeld, Assistant’s number Daniel 621- 7865, garry.bredefeld@fresno.gov

District 7 Nelson Esparza, Assistant’s number, Leefong 621-7877, nelson.esparza@fresno.gov

Public comment:

Email your public comment to clerk@fresno.gov. State “Public comment for Safe Camp, April 22”

Add you comment directly in eComments. Look for the item in the agenda (it may not yet be added): https://fresno.granicusideas.com/meetings/456-city-council-on-2021-04-22-9-00-am-regular-meeting/agenda_items

Did you know? Director’s Story pt. 1

22728FE7-3A1A-443C-A6C8-7DF8ACBB379F.jpegDid you know?

I would like to start sharing my story now about my experience with homelessness, what I did to survive & how hard I tried to make my homelessness Invisible to the people around me. I’ll be doing short stories periodically.

This is March 2016
Tower District
Fresno Ca

At this time I was offered a room in a back garage that was being converted into a small studio. I was already attending CMAC (Community Media Access Collaborative). How I got in is another story lol.
I was always hungry & always asking staff for food or their leftovers from lunch. One day Cesar (staff) walked in from lunch carrying a lunch bag. “I’m hungry, what we got today” I asked. “I’m sorry, it’s all gone, I was just tossing out trash” cesar said.
My stomach was like “Damnnnnnn”
I said Hangry “what do I need to do to get some food”
Cesar response “you have all the tools you need here, make a food show, then you will always eat”.
That’s exactly what I did.
I wrote my proposal for the show & got the approval to do it.
I was nervous because I needed a team to be able to put it together.
Anita (a lady at cmac & my angel) helped me on my last show UGM (that story another time) but that was at the studio. This was going to be on location. Anita and I grabbed 2 cameras & mics then walked down Fulton street and asked restaurants if we could film a food show. I asked for 4 different entrees of their best plates and we would taste test it and film as we ate and gave our opinions on food.
You see, this would benefit both of us. They would get a show on TV and I would get food to take with me.
Problem solved 👍🏼.

I named the TV show “Fresno Eatz”
I got a big crew to help me out and we then went out to local community owned restaurants and filmed the show.
We all ate good🤗.

This photo was at one location in Tower district. As you see, I look far from “homeless”. I would get ready in the bathroom at CMAC. I would get my hair and make up done by a friend at CMAC & dress the “I’m not homeless” part to stay Invisible about my homelessness.
I did this because, if someone knew I was homeless, they would treat me differently, so I would hide it as best as I could. Doing that drained me. Why couldn’t I just be me?
Why couldn’t I just be an individual that needed help.
When people started to find out, they would ask me if I were a drug addict or alcoholic. I responded “No”. That’s when they assumed I wanted to be homeless. 😓
That’s why I started interviewing our street families so the community can understand who we are and why we became homeless.

That’s how “Fresno Eatz” tv show started & how I was able to get food to survive.

Thank you CMAC for not throwing me out when you found me hiding out in your building. Thank you Cesar for sitting and teaching me the skills I needed. Thank you CMAC crew for all their hard work on set. Thank you Anita, you did so much and was my rock during my toughest times. Thank you Myisha for making me look good 🤗 hair & makeup.
Thank you Michael for helping me escape my homeless reality. He is another Angel that helped me through my tough times.

Trying to survive homelessness in Fresno Ca is very hard. Trying to hide & fake your not homeless is exhausting.
Never judge a book by its cover.

We are Homeless
We are Human
We are Not Invisible
~Dez~
#fresnoeatz #homelessinfresno #homelesslivesmatter #tvshow #shoplocal #supportlocal #howisurvivedhunger
#endhunger #endhomlessness