California Spending Millions To House Homeless Vets

Jul 25, 2014

California has $600 million in bond funds to spend on homeless veterans. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, public workshops are being held around the state to gather ideas about how to spend that money.

Last June voters approved using the existing bond money to provide more affordable housing for California’s 15,000 homeless vets.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we talk about mental health in Central California, one groups desire to end homelessness among veterans in Fresno, fires with Fresno Fire Chief Kerri Donis and a Bakersfield Instagram photo exhibit featuring FM89's Ezra David Romero's #droughtvoices photos.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A California ballot measure before voters next month would redirect $600 million of pre-approved funds to build housing for low income and homeless veterans. Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento. 

Forty-eight year-old Matthew Meissner says when one thing goes downhill, everything else follows. He became disabled in 2009, stopped working, moved in with family, then last year, found himself sleeping wherever he could in Sacramento.  

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition FM89 reporter Ezra David Romero travels with a snow surveyor to measure the April 1 snowpack, we talk about new homeless laws in Fresno and Bakersfield, discuss college sports unions, drink local beer and talk with world famous pipa player Wu Man.  


For over 60 years, a mammoth cluster of radio towers and transmitters just west of Delano beamed the Voice of America network to shortwave listeners across the globe. 

Now according to the trade publication Radio World, the property could soon get a new use as housing for the homeless.

Built in 1944, the 500,000 watt station turned off its transmitters for the last time in 2007, a victim of government cutbacks and rapidly changing technology.

This week on Valley Edition we discuss the issues of homelessness, prisons and a new book about the legacy of the Dust Bowl.

Valley Public Radio Reporter Rebecca Plevin tells the story of how two women evicted from a Fresno homeless encampment chose entirely different homes after eviction - one an eco-home and the other a field.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

For almost a year, Nancy Holmes and Sinamon Blake were neighbors in a homeless encampment in downtown Fresno.

But city employees bulldozed their camp a few weeks ago, in an effort to rid the city of illegal structures. The two friends, and the other residents of their camp, scattered. Nancy and Sinamon ended up on a huge, dusty piece of land outside the city's jurisdiction.

“I didn’t care for the path that Sinamon found us, but damn, we were safe,” says Nancy, 61, a borderline diabetic with asthma.

She lasted there for about two weeks.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

 Cinnamon has lived in a make-shift structure near the grain silos, west of Palm Avenue and H Street, for more than two years. She says the homeless encampment there is different from others that have cropped up in downtown Fresno.

“We’re not a camp, we’re a neighborhood, a family,” she said. “We all look out for each other.”

The encampment has rules. For example, the residents decide – together – if a new person could move in.


This week on Valley Edition we take a look at the issues of homelessness, water, prisons and water. Starting off the program, FM89 reporter Ezra David Romero explores the issue of homelessness in the Central California City of Visalia

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The City of Visalia is known to many as the small town with the good restaurants on the way to the giant sequoias. Its bustling downtown district is home to a thriving music scene and dozens of shops and entertainment venues. But less than a mile to the north, in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, Lincoln Oval Park is home to a much different Visalia. It’s ground zero for the city’s homeless population.