Fresno's newly appointed City Manager Bruce Rudd says enough is enough - the homeless encampments must go!
Armed with heavy machinery, city crews demolish makeshift housing along several streets in downtown Fresno.
The cost, $40, 000, however Rudd says the city can no longer sit by and do nothing, because the health and financial impact from these camps is too great.
Bruce Rudd says, "In the last 60 days, we had more than 250 arrests, from misdemeanor to felony crimes, gang affiliate activity occurring out here."
Rudd acknowledges tearing them down will not get the homeless off the streets, but steps are being made to help those who want it.
Rudd says, "The Fresno Housing Authority will continue to be out here every Wednesday morning. We will be reaching out to individuals who want to get off the street. In addition, the city's budget also set aside a million dollars this year for tenant-based rental assistance."
Downtown business owner Glen Lundeen says he could not be happier. He says he's been the victim of several break-ins.
Glen Lundeen says, "A lot of it is sad. A lot of times they are under the influence as far as drugs and they've caused so many other businesses harm here, burglaries coming through the ceilings and even thefts."
City officials understand it's going to be a very long and tedious process, while they are able to destroy some of the structures, the property inside must be bagged and categorize. The city will be keeping that property for a total of 90 days, after that they are free to dispose of it.
City staff members are also taking extra steps, besides giving the homeless a 30-day notice, and storing their personal belongings. City crews wore cameras, videotaping conversations, all in an effort to prevent lawsuits.
In 2008, the city lost a Federal Civil Rights case and paid out 2 million dollars for destroying property belonging to the HOMELESS.
So what's going to stop the homeless from coming back?
Rudd says a special task force made of police and code enforcement officers will keep the homeless from setting up new camps.
With the help of Fresno's Housing Authority, Rudd says about 50 homeless have been moved to permanent housing.
It's estimated there are more than 4,000 homeless in Fresno and Madera counties. More than half are living in downtown Fresno's camp sites.