The talk on the streets by homeless people concerning homeless issues is among the most talked about subjects in some neighborhoods and communities, to include some people in north Fresno, where a majority of our elected officials live. Many homeless people believe that most of our elected officials, and a majority of north Fresno residents, only indulge in conversation on homeless issues when there is a substantial amount of money to be made or to discuss how to make homeless people disappear, or suffer. Fresno city officials do a hell of a good job in making homeless people’s lives pure hell, such as creating new laws to stop homeless people from making money-a necessity in anyone’s life.
The most recent talk on the streets among homeless people is the Eco-Village project, headed by local architect Art Dyson and Fresno State. Dyson and Fresno State hired me as a consultant on homeless issues and housing. Dyson, Professor Lloyd Carter and myself, along with 62 Fresno State students (the largest class at Fresno State that semester) and three other Parkside homeless people (Anthony, Paulie Orduno and Al Foster) did what the City of Fresno to this day has not accomplished. We put together six kick-ass units of various styles and sizes, one of which sleeps four people, and others, two or more people. It cost the City of Fresno not one penny. We did this with free labor (students and homeless people working together) and nearly all donated materials. Anthony and I actually helped teach the students how to construct a structure to code, which most city officials say that homeless people do not have the intelligence to do. Duahhh! Wrong again, City of Fresno.
I have had an ongoing dialogue with City Council Representative Cynthia Sterling and Fresno homeless prevention and policy manager Gregory Barfield on homeless issues. When we first spoke, I told them then and still do to this day that 40% of the homeless population in Fresno is capable of fending on their own if given a helping hand, but the city chooses not to go in that direction. Instead, the city insists on continuing to provide the “poverty pimps” and those who have made homelessness a business with millions of dollars that are supposed to be used to lower the homeless count. Instead of lowering the homeless count (the count of homeless people is actually increasing), they are using this money for other projects, such as programs that fail and salaries for themselves.
Just three days after we had an exhibit of the units that we built, Mayor Ashley Swearengin asked the citizens of Fresno to send their donations to the city to continue to do the same unproductive bullshit that they have been doing for how many years? Swearengin and her puppets met with Dyson for a discussion on providing funds and/or a piece of land on which to build an Eco-Village. The mayor’s response was that she would continue to give funds intended for housing for homeless people to the existing service providers, which hasn’t done a damn thing to reduce homelessness in the past 30, 40, maybe 50 years.
Moreover, the mayor added developer Tom Richards to the list of people to receive money from the city to “help” the homeless here in Fresno. Richards is the same hypocrite who had homeless people removed from his property on Ventura and F streets. Richards was also the chair for the 10-year plan task force [the 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness], which I too sat on and said then that it was just a bunch of bullshit, and to this day the 10-year plan is just a bunch of bullshit.
The number of homeless people has increased tremendously in the past several years. My question is, Do the leaders of Fresno fit Einstein’s definition of an idiot? Which is, “someone who does the same thing over and over again with the same results.” Go figure. Our point and question is why is money intended for housing for the homeless being used for programs such as drug, alcohol and mental illness issues? Why does the City of Fresno continue to support the Rescue Mission and the Poverello House, etc., with huge amounts of money, and those organizations cannot account for the money or show how many people they have removed from the streets?
New Talk in the Hood
On Sunday, July 11, at approximately4 a.m., one of the Park Side Crew, Paulie (Paul M. Orduno), took it to another level and is now continuing his journey through the universe. Paulie passed away, leaving a lost feeling among the Park Side Crew, among many others throughout Fresno and elsewhere. Briefly, Paulie spent his last hours with his friends, brothers and sisters, not biological, but where he lived-Roeding Park. He ate his last meal with us. He was happy and content, and more than likely in pain. He was an activist in his own quiet way, and when serious issues came up his input was highly respected by the Crew. Paul passed away in Roeding Park on the grass with two of his best friends, Eric Drown and myself. Paul is, and will forever be, missed greatly among the Park Side Crew and many other friends.