The City of Fresno announced the cleanup of the encampments near the Monterey Street Bridge is completed and that work will continue to find housing for the former residents of those encampments.

In conjunction with the completion of the cleanup, the top federal official in charge of addressing homelessness today commended the City and its partners for working to provide a long-term solution for homeless individuals.

“I applaud the City and its partners for focusing on the housing-first approach to addressing this issue and getting the public, private and nonprofit sectors aligned to provide services and housing to the men and women living in the encampments,” said Barbara Poppe, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. “The City and its partners have shown true leadership in energizing the community to respond in a way that is compassionate to individual needs and also makes sense for the greater community.”

Poppe visited Fresno in August 2010 for a first-hand look at Fresno’s homelessness situation.

“I appreciate Barbara Poppe’s insights on Fresno’s homelessness challenge and her support for our housing-first model to address the issue,” Mayor Swearengin said. “We remain committed to continuing to work with homeless individuals to link them to housing and other supportive services that are critical to getting them on the path to independence.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, 58 individuals in those areas have either been housed or have received financial assistance for their search for a housing unit in the last week. Another 68 have been linked to services that include transitional housing. The City and its partners have 140 housing vouchers available for homeless individuals, so the capacity exists to help additional people obtain housing, Mayor Swearengin said.

To help individuals get access to housing and other supportive services, representatives from the City and a number of partner agencies – including the Fresno Housing Authorities, WestCare, the Veterans Administration, Fresno County Economic Opportunities Commission, Resources for Independence Central Valley and Angels of Grace – will be at Santa Clara and G Street today and tomorrow. They also will be available at their respective agencies for several weeks to continue providing assistance to individuals as they work their way through the process of connecting to housing and other resources.

The cleanup efforts are being conducted to address health and safety concerns and in preparation for the demolition of the Monterey Street bridge in late 2011 or early 2012 and also for construction of Renaissance at Santa Clara, a 70-unit complex to house homeless people. Construction of the Renaissance at Santa Clara is expected to begin at the end of November.