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Fresno Area Officials Set to Acquire Hotel Rooms for Homeless COVID-19 Cases



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In a late afternoon news conference Wednesday, Fresno city and county officials stood shoulder to shoulder to announce a combined effort to provide service to homeless populations vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We recognize the fact that our homeless are the most vulnerable population that we have here in Fresno County.”— Supervisor Nathan Magsig
“We recognize the fact that our homeless are the most vulnerable population that we have here in Fresno County,” said Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig. Despite the homeless still having to volunteer for testing, the city and county want to provide resources to those that agree to be tested and show symptoms of COVID-19.

Room Vouchers and Hand Washing Stations

The city and county are working together with newly acquired vouchers for hotel and motel rooms that can be used to house homeless that are identified as needing quarantine.
Sonia de la Rosa, principal administrative analyst for Fresno County said, “The reason we’re using hotel rooms is because that will give us an opportunity to isolate those folks that are pending test results or have been identified as COVID positive but do not require hospitalization.”
As far as protection for the hotel workers and staff, the county says there will be protections in place for them as well as janitorial services to ensure the facility stays clean.
“We’ve seen an enormous amount of hotel and motel owners across the city volunteer their facilities,” said Fresno City Councilman Miguel Arias.
It has not yet been determined which facilities will be used. The city and county say the locations will be determined by proximity to services that may be needed to address the medical needs they encounter. Ideally that would be a location that opens up to a parking lot close to a breezeway in the event an infected patient needs to be moved elsewhere they’ll be able to do so without infecting anyone else.

County officials are initially looking at getting anywhere from 20 to 30 beds, but with the likelihood they’ll need more.
30 hand washing station have already been spread across the city and county, with plans to place many more of them in the coming days to parks. Hand washing stations have already been placed in the cities of Reedley and  Sanger, with plans to deploy more out to Mendota and Firebaugh.

State Providing $2 Million in Emergency Funding

The efforts are being paid for through $2 million in emergency funding provided by the state to help local communities address to the coronavirus pandemic. The city received $1 million, while the county and the Fresno Madera Continuum of Care each received $500,000.
The three agencies are pooling their resources and collaborating on their response, said H. Spees, the director of strategic initiatives for the city of Fresno.
Fresno County’s behavioral health director Dawan Utecht will be in charge of allocating the money.

County Approves Contract for More Shelter Beds

Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved a $2.1 million contract with RH Community Builders to provide 265 new emergency shelter beds for up to six months. The beds will be used for homeless individuals who need to isolate due to exposure to COVID-19. The organization operates several existing shelters in the city.
Dez Martinez, founder of the homeless advocacy non-profit “We Are Not Invisible” believes there are better ways to spend the money. “”I feel that our homeless in Fresno are going to remain invisible because other cities have already housed the homeless into motels and have taken immediate action,” she said.
“I believe there are other alternatives regarding the state money that was spent and could have been spent more wisely. In 90 days RH Community Builders’ contract is up.”

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email