Fresno First Steps Home is a City-sponsored nonprofit, dedicated to ending homelessness. It has the strength and support of City Hall, but with the focus and agility of an independent nonprofit.
save Fresno taxpayers $11,872 a year.
Doing nothing is costing our community
nearly $80,000,000 per year in public resources.
—Source: Cost Analysis for the Fresno Ten-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness by Culhane & Metraux, April 2010.
Formed in 2009, Fresno First Steps Home exists for two reasons:
- to raise money
- to give it away to service providers who are implementing the City’s Ten-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness.
To date, 2,389 private corporations and donors have donated over $500,000. Founding corporate sponsors include St. Agnes Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Community Medical Center, PG&E, Walmart, and private individuals.
Homelessness also negatively impacts economic development opportunities in our community, which already suffers from high unemployment and high levels of concentrated poverty. Those willing to invest in our community, or even considering relocating a company here, say our homelessness issue is a problem and that it appears we lack the social conscience to address it. We know that’s not true, but the perception harms our economic development efforts. We must work together to address this issue.
Housing One Homeless Person Can Save Fresno $11,872 a Year
Homeless individuals are among the highest users of social and community services. Often they have severe mental issues, substance abuse disorders, and other medical problems. A recently completed cost analysis of chronic homelessness in Fresno estimates that housing one chronically homeless person saves the Fresno community $11,872 per person per year in public funds. Doing nothing is costing our community nearly $80,000,000 per year in public resources. (Source: Cost Analysis for the Fresno Ten-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness by Culhane & Metraux, April 2010.)
The End of Government Funding
“The City of Fresno does not receive any ongoing Federal or state funding to provide services for the homeless.”
The Federal government initially provided Fresno with funding for housing the homeless through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) for the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). In less than six months, this program provided assistance to more than 350 people by moving them off the street or by preventing them from falling into homelessness. However, demand for assistance has been overwhelming and the government funds will expire in 2012.
Our Program is a Smart, Community-Wide Effort
“Across the nation, research has shown that when housing is combined with supportive services, it results in cost savings from fewer hospitalizations, fewer ambulance and police calls, and fewer days in jail.”
—Barbara Poppe, Executive Director, United States Interagency Council on Homelessness
People are homeless for a variety of reasons—some for unforeseen circumstances such as unemployment, and others because of a variety of personal challenges that are difficult to overcome. There is no singular solution to ending homelessness, but there is a proven method based on best practices seen throughout the country now being accomplished in Fresno with great success. It’s called “housing first.” The idea is to focus first on providing housing to help stabilize the homeless individual’s life by providing them a safe, stable place to rest, keep personal belongings, and receive mail. Then, that allows individuals to obtain the services they need to address the various issues that led them into homelessness in the first place. Housing is the critical first step toward independence and self-sufficiency.
By partnering with multiple service organizations, Fresno First Steps Home uses a coordinated, realistic approach to breaking the cycle of homelessness. The efforts are tracked across organizations using the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS).