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Organizers hold a protest in Fresno to stand up for the unhoused.

In a Victory for Organizing and Free Speech, Judge Blocks Ordinance That Punishes People Who Stand Up for the Unhoused

We are celebrating a recent court decision that finally gives some dignity to the unhoused community.

Recently, the Fresno City Council passed an ordinance that put unconstitutional restrictions on advocates and reporters during unhoused encampment sweeps. The ordinance prevented people from being present, observing or reporting on abuses or providing support during these sweeps.

But, last month, as a result of the organizing efforts from our leaders and partners at the ACLU and the Fresno Homeless Union, a federal judge blocked the ordinance—a ruling that gives the people a bigger voice in how our communities are run.

“I’m so happy because my street family members will continue to have support when they need it most and we’ll be able to bear witness to what the city is trying to do,” said Dez Martinez, lead plaintiff and president of the Fresno Homeless Union,

The ordinance represents the intensifying war against unhoused people occurring all over California. “Every day someone is being swept off the road. They are being told to relocate and they are losing everything they have and being arrested,” Faith in the Valley organizer Alexandra Alvarado said.

We also know that, without advocates, organizers and the media stepping in to shine a spotlight on these encampment sweeps, city workers would continue to forcibly remove unhoused people and destroy their possessions without any accountability.

In fact, one advocate prevented an unhoused individual from being run over by a bulldozer during a sweep.

That’s why it is important to continue our efforts to advance the Homes Guarantee. Our Homes Guarantee vision imagines a Central Valley where encampment sweeps no longer occur because everyone—especially the unhoused community—has safe, accessible, sustainable and permanently affordable housing.

Our support for the unhoused community took another step forward in June when Stockton, the San Joaquin Continuum of Care and San Joaquin County broke ground on a new 24-hour navigation center and low-barrier shelter that will include 180 beds. The shelter will be the first of its kind in Stockton and, when complete, will allow unhoused individuals, couples and families to stay together and bring their pets and possessions into the shelter.

We have been working with our partners at the Stockton Housing Justice Coalition and the Echo Chamber’s WE CAN Project to facilitate public forums and collaborate with city council members to see the project come to fruition. In these listening sessions, the unhoused and concerned community members stressed the importance of “no displacement without navigation.”

As a result, at the new navigation center and shelter, residents will have access to social services like case management, medical care, and housing placement services, which will help people move toward permanent housing solutions.

The site is expected to be up and running later this year.

To get more involved with our Homes Guarantee work in the Central Valley, contact Alexandra Alvarado at [email protected] or Zonnie Thompson at [email protected].

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