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Green Homeless Shelter Breaks Ground in Fresno

A non-profit organization aims to construct homeless communities using environmentally friendly structures to house homeless men and women.

The Eco Village Project of Fresno invited 3o city leaders to join them in their groundbreaking ceremony at the Dakota EcoGarden, on the deck of the first prototype. Although the shelters are modest constructions, they use green technology such as milk jugs filled with water and surrounded by fiberglass as heat collectors to warm the inhabitants. The jugs warmed by the sun retain heat, generating warmth through the evening.

Award winning architect Arthur Dyson, who conceived of the idea in 2011, said that, “We are working to provide not just warmth and shelter but an expansion of the human spirit.” According to the Fresno Bee, Dyson foresees an entire half-block lined with these shelters joined with a large community structure comprising a laundry room, bathrooms, computer rooms, and counseling offices.

Dyson and friends entertain high expectations for the residents. With the help of Fresno State or Fresno Pacific University local sociology students could supply counseling and help the residents transition to a more mainstream existence. Eligibility to stay at the facility will be only one year. Consequently, it is crucial that the occupants learn skills to cope with a more complicated lifestyle when they leave.

The biggest obstacle to the project’s success, according to Dyson and Eco Village Project board member Joan Levie, is acquiring land to build the villages. “The city has no interest in giving us space,” Dyson lamented. “We would even take some additional space just for more tents,” Levie said. “We have completely run out of space.”

The project may have a friend with Fresno District 1 Council Member, Esmeralda Soria, who voiced some support for the project at the groundbreaking ceremony. “I’m excited to bring this perspective and outside-the-box thinking to them,” the council woman said. “We need to find working programs and replicate them throughout the city.”

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