High-Speed Rail lot trashed, clean-up effort organized by Fresno Rescue Mission
FRESNO, Calif. (KMPH) —
Matt Dildine sees a lot as the CEO of the Fresno Rescue Mission.
Not just on the Mission's grounds, but also down the street.
"When all that generosity ends, this is what happens. This is what happens," he says, pointing to a pile of trash on a lot along "G" Street near Ventura Street.
The lot is covered in the remnants of good intentions.
Styrofoam plates and cups.
Many of the items were dropped off by people, on their own, to the homeless during the holidays.
"People have a misconception that 'because they're homeless, we can give them anything. We can give them the trash bags of our old clothes and they'll take it and be happy to get all this new clothes,'" Dildine says. "That's not the case, they throw things out like anybody else."
There is no dumpster on the lot.
Even those who are homeless are frustrated by the mess.
"It pisses us off," says Armando Flores, who stays at the nearby Poverello House.
"We've asked the city workers if we can have trash bags. We're willing to pick the trash up, we're willing to clean up. But they tell us no."
That's because the land does not belong to the city -- or any of the nearby shelters and organizations.
It belongs to the California High-Speed Rail Authority.
There is a fence on the property warning trespassers.
That fence, is also full of gaps.
"No matter what, the homeless are gonna cut it," says Flores.
"The most effective thing the fence is for is for them to prop up tarps, prop up their tents. In terms of keeping people in and out, it doesn't fool anybody," says Dildine.
Dildine says the trash is now posing a hazard.
Some people dump their used needles.
That's not all.
"It's not uncommon at all to have fires out here," he says.
FOX26 News reached out to the California High-Speed Rail Authority about the blight.
Spokesperson Toni Tinoco sent the following statement:
"The Authority has been working closely with the California Highway Patrol to address homeless encampments that have been set up on high-speed rail property in downtown Fresno. Our goal now is to coordinate a cleanup with our contractor to safely remove debris left behind and determine a long-term solution to address trespassing throughout the project area."
Until that happens, the Fresno Rescue Mission is organizing what it calls a "Post Holiday Clean-Up" along G Street.
"This is not our property and not our responsibility, but we're making it our responsibility to try and take care of it," Dildine says.
The goal is to clean up the trash -- and reach out to those who are currently homeless and living on the lot.
Dildine doesn't want to discourage the generosity of those willing to give, but asks people to re-direct their efforts to work with the groups that help change people's lives.
"The more you give them out here, the less incentive-ized they are to go inside to seek help, seek services. It can become a real problem," Dildine says.
Saturday's clean-up begins with sign-in at 9:30 a.m. at the Fresno Rescue Mission at 263 G. Street.
The clean-up begins at 10:00 a.m. and ends at noon.
Volunteers are asked to bring gloves, trash bags, and pickers.