After Homeless Trailers Plan Fails, County Looks to Send $1M to Poverello House - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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After Homeless Trailers Plan Fails, County Looks to Send $1M to Poverello House

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County officials will vote Tuesday on $1 million to expand the Poverello House kitchen after a homeless housing project was scrapped. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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Failure to find an agreeable location for 25 travel trailers between the city of Fresno, the county of Fresno, and an affordable housing developer means the end of a transitional housing project.

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors Tuesday will vote to redesignate $1 million of Rescue Plan Dollars originally meant to go to RH Community Builders for setting up trailers to house homeless people to instead go toward expanding the kitchen at Poverello House.

The County had received the fifth-wheel trailers at the beginning of the pandemic to isolate unhoused people who had tested positive for Covid-19, said Katie Wilbur, executive director for RH Community Builders. After the pandemic ended, the county and the company agreed to use them as transitional housing for families.

The units are large enough to support a family. Rent would have largely been subsidized to help the homeless move to more permanent housing, Wilbur said.

Proposed Location in Arias’ District

The locations chosen were in Fresno City Councilmember Miguel Arias’ district, next to where RH already had operations. Being close to an existing facility meant only having to hire one or two more managers, said Wilbur.

Arias, however, said the locations were zoned industrial and that setting up trailers for permanent housing would have been illegal. Arias said the county was looking for the easiest solution.

The location in Arias’ District 3 was near The Sands Motel on Golden State Boulevard. Permanently establishing a trailer requires residential zoning. A rezone application process can take years, Arias said. He said there were other county properties in his district he would not have been opposed to.

“They tried to find a lazy way to do it and the cheapest way, which happens to be an illegal one,” Arias said.

Arias has long criticized the county for not undertaking more affordable housing projects.

The trailers are now at the Fresno Fairgrounds providing temporary shelters for flood victims who had to evacuate, according to a county spokesperson. The board will hear an item from County Administrative Officer Paul Nerland about donating the trailers for housing.

Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

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