LATEST NEWS:
A neighbor peaks into an unoccupied, foreclosed home owned by U.S. Bank in East Los Angeles, California on July 16, 2012. L.A. city prosecutors filed a sweeping lawsuit accusing U.S. Bank of illegally allowing more than 1500 foreclosed homes in the city to deteriorate into slums, demanding that the bank clean up and improve the conditions for families that live there. (Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Slumlord housing exists and Fresno State students can help

Fresno has a century-old intolerable problem: slumlord housing, predominantly in West Fresno.

Slumlords are landlords out for profit who neglect the health and safety of their vulnerable residents.

There are housing codes and regulations that are supposed to be upheld. Codes and regulations have been continuously ignored by slumlords and housing authorities.

Even more important than housing codes and regulations is the code of being humane. There are helpless people, including our most vulnerable, children, living in our very own West Fresno who live in extremely unsafe and unhealthy conditions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain that “safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments are essential to prevent child maltreatment (CM) and to assure that children reach their full potential.”

It is a human right to have access to the basic needs of life. One of those rights is to live in a warm and safe home.

Child advocate Rahima Baldwin Dancy writes, “The consequences of not being warm enough comes down to three separate things: one is the fact that the energy is diverted away from development of the inner organs and brain; the second one is that warmth is a gateway to the higher senses of the 12 senses and could possibly be related to the explosion of sensory processing disorders we are seeing in this generation of children; and the third thing is that lack of warmth (both physical AND emotional –always remember that warmth is about emotional warmth as well as the physical warmth) can lead to a literal freezing of creativity and lack of enthusiasm…”

While discussing slumlord housing with a friend, as we sat in our privilege drinking fancy coffee at a North Fresno coffee establishment, I realized a strong, possible reason why slumlords exist in Fresno.

There are people in Fresno who have never been to West Fresno, and there are people in Fresno who have no idea that Fresno’s concentrated poverty rate is one of the worst in the country, rivaling that of Third World countries.

Fresno needs more people to advocate and speak out about slumlords.

Fresno needs people who do have safe, warm homes to help speak up and out for those who don’t and those who do not have the influence to advocate for themselves.

It has been said that when we know better, we do better. The revelation of slumlord housing in Fresno has been made.

Slumlord housing is affecting our community’s health, which means slumlord housing is affecting us. Fresno State students are in a unique setting with many educational opportunities that can make differences in the lives of others.

Students can enlist in community service classes or projects that focus on advocating for residents in the West Fresno community. They can embark on research to help find and solve the underlying cause of slumlord housing in Fresno.

Fresno State students can help those children in West Fresno who lie awake at night, freezing, because their family has gone without heat for days. Those children deserve to be “warm enough” to be thinking about their ABCs and 1-2-3s.

Fresno State students can spread the word!