Photo by Alejandro De La Cruz via Flickr Creative Commons

Where Is Dyer on Addressing the Homeless?

By James Mendez

At an Oct. 16 press conference, three of Jerry Dyer’s strong supporters—Fresno City Council Members Mike Karbassi and Garry Bredefeld and Fresno Police Chief Andy Hall—of his mayoral candidacy made reckless recommendations regarding how to deal with Fresno’s homeless problem. Given that Dyer has supported all three of them, I suspect he also supports their recommendations.

Dyer endorsed Karbassi in his August 2019 election to the Fresno City Council. In return, Karbassi supports Dyer and has contributed financial support to Dyer’s 2020 campaign for mayor. Bredefeld was endorsed by Dyer in his 2016 campaign, and Bredefeld supports Dyer in the 2020 mayoral race.

After a closed-door session, and based solely on the recommendation of Dyer to Mayor Lee Brand and City Manager Wilma Quan, Brand promoted Hall to Fresno police chief on Aug. 23. Hall assumed the role on Oct. 16, when Dyer retired.

Based on seeing Dyer and Hall at press conferences, I suspect Hall supports Dyer, as does Todd Fraizer, president of the Fresno Police Officers Association (FPOA). The FPOA Political Action Committee gave $9,000 on June 26 to Dyer’s mayoral campaign.

At the API mayoral forum, Dyer was nonspecific on recommendations to address homelessness in Fresno. On the other hand, Karbassi, Bredefeld and Hall were specific in making their thoughtless, imprudent, impulsive and impractical recommendations on how to manage homelessness in Fresno.

Those recommendations would take Fresno back to the 1800s when poor people suffering from mental illness were locked up in mental institutions. No scientific study of their recommendations (e.g., more police, more prison time, institutionalize the mentally ill, no-camping ordinances, more no panhandling signs, razor wire around businesses) shows the recommendations to be of any benefit in addressing or decreasing homelessness.

In contrast to the Karbassi, Bredefeld and Hall recommendations, “in September 2017, [the] Fresno Housing Authority contracted with Barbara Poppe & Associates, a national expert on homelessness, to assess how the Fresno community was addressing homelessness and recommend strategies that would advance and accelerate reductions in homelessness.” In September 2018, Barbara Poppe & Associates released its report Framework for Action, known as Street 2 Home. The report is based on facts and evidence-based studies of what works (“housing first”) and what does not work (see above) in decreasing homelessness in large cities and states across the country.

If what my grandma said is true, “dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres (Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are),” we can see from the proposals of Dyer’s supporters (Karbassi, Bredefeld, Hall) what Dyer’s homeless program might look like.

*****

James Mendez is a retired physician. He is a supporter of public education, having been a recipient from kindergarten through medical school. He and his wife are thankful for this time of their lives to spend time with their daughters and grandchildren. Contact him at jim_mendez@icloud.com.

  • 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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