Photo by Danny Hammontree via Flickr Creative Commons. It is of kids at the Umoja Village Shantytown in 2008, which was founded on October 23, 2006 in the Liberty City section of Miami, Florida. It was built in response to a crisis of gentrification and lack of low-income housing gripping Miami, Florida, considered one of the least affordable cities in the United States.

Action Needed Now on Family Shelters

By Kayla Moon

A homeless mother is mourning the loss of her three-month-old daughter who died in a Fresno motel. According to the Fresno County Coroner’s report, the cause of death is believed to be Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) related. The baby girl, and her family, had no stable place to stay and were repeatedly told to leave local family shelters for the majority of the day.

This is occurring as Lee Brand finishes his time as mayor of Fresno. Brand had stated that focusing on the homeless community was going to be one of his top priorities. Yet, as he is finishing his four-year term and stating that he will not seek reelection, we can reflect on whether he has kept his word in regard to issues that face our massive homeless population.

Rev. Floyd Harris Jr., a local activist and community leader, says that “it’s past time for us to take charge of our community. We have allowed politicians to manipulate the homeless and the voiceless for their own agenda for too long. Now is the time to take a stand.”

As a community, we must put pressure on our local representatives and those running to be the next mayor of Fresno to address the desperate need for family shelters.

“I’m outraged to know that an infant died from a lack of resources,” says Aaron Foster, a community organizer with Faith in Fresno. “I would love to see the decision-makers of Fresno make some humane choices and start seeing all human beings as equal partners of this thing we call life. No matter what tax bracket or geographic part of the city we live in.”

The president of Yes California also tuned in to the discussion in an interview and stated that “California is a donor state, and pays more to subsidize 25 states than it gets back in federal services. The state of California lost $13.7 billion in 2019. The cost to house all of the homeless in the Bay Area is estimated at $12.7 billion, meaning we could fix homelessness in the entire Bay Area in one year if California was independent and not expected to help support other states. With that kind of money being lost annually, we could literally wipe out homelessness in the entire Central Valley within one to two years.”

These community leaders made their statements clear: There is so much more that we could be doing as a community and as a state. This loss of life is inhumane and should never happen.

*****

Kayla Moon is a freelance journalist who focuses on women’s rights, youth advocacy, and environmental and social issues in the Central Valley. Find her work at futureofminds.com, We Are Change, the Conscious Resistance, the Fresno Flyer and Instagram (@futureofminds).

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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