On Wednesday, Mayor Swearengin praised Walmart for providing a $100,000 donation to Fresno First Steps Home, the comprehensive effort to prevent and end the cycle of homelessness in the City of Fresno.

“I commend Walmart for its continuing commitment to the Fresno community,” Mayor Swearengin said.  “Walmart’s commitment to Fresno First Steps Home will make a tremendous difference as we work to substantially reduce the number of people living on our streets.”

“Walmart is proud to support the great work being done by Mayor Swearengin and Fresno First Steps Home to help more residents re-build their lives and create a better future for themselves,” said Mickey Anderson, regional general manager for Walmart stores in central California. “We are committed to partnering with the Fresno community to create jobs, generate sales tax revenues and provide donations such as this to help improve our communities.”

Walmart’s donation will be used to help provide housing and wrap-around services to individuals who currently are living in encampments.  The Fresno First Steps Home board in September expects to announce a provider to coordinate the efforts to house and provide services to people who currently are homeless, particularly in the area surrounding the Monterey Street bridge.  The bridge is scheduled to be demolished later this year.

Fresno First Steps Home has raised about $500,000 from approximately 2,000 contributions toward Mayor Swearengin’s goal of $1 million a year to implement a 10-year plan to end homelessness.  Mayor Swearengin said anyone wanting to donate to Fresno First Steps Home has several options:

  • By visiting FresnoFirstStepsHome.org, individuals can make a one-time donation in any amount, take the “Buck a Month” pledge in which they donate $12 a year to the effort, or set up a recurring donation in any amount.
  • Donations also can be made by texting the word HOME to 85944 to make a one-time, $10 donation to Fresno First Steps Home.
  • Donations also can be mailed to City Manager’s Office, 2600 Fresno Street, Fresno, CA  93721.  Checks should be made payable to “Fresno First Steps Home.”

Mayor Swearengin said several efforts to address homelessness are either under way or have already occurred, including:

  • The recent opening of Renaissance at Trinity, a $3.9-million, 20-unit complex for homeless people with mental health and medical issues.  It’s the first of three housing complexes for the homeless that the Housing Authorities plans to open, with construction of the other two scheduled to start later this year.
  • An intensive assessment process was conducted in July to categorize individuals in encampments based on a vulnerability index.  The assessment is part of the fall 2011 Housing Project, which will focus on the area surrounding the Monterey Street bridge.  Closing of  encampments along Santa Fe, Santa Clara and E to G, and the Monterey Street Bridge (California & G and Monterey & Broadway) is scheduled to occur by end of the year.

Fresno First Steps Home has allocated $60,000 of corporate-sponsored funding to the Fresno Medical Respite Center for start-up costs.  The center has been established to provide a safe environment where homeless individuals can stay to complete their recuperation after having been discharged from a hospital.