Fresno Housing 1940 – 2015
The Fresno Housing Authority was founded 75 years ago, and has been providing quality affordable housing ever since — as a developer of new affordable housing, as the manager of public housing developments, as a partner with private developers in the creation of mixed-income development, as the manager of a large voucher program, and through its role in the preservation of affordable housing throughout Fresno County.
Fresno Housing helps approximately 16,500 low-income families (including seniors and the disabled) afford safe, quality decent housing. Of these, approximately 12,500 families use Housing Choice Vouchers (formerly known as Section 8) to live independently in market rate rental housing owned by private landlords. Another 4,000 families reside in units owned and maintained by Fresno Housing Authority.
The agency administers numerous affordable housing and homeless programs funded primarily by HUD and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In addition to rental assistance, the Fresno Housing Authority has helped qualified Fresno residents purchase their first homes and repair existing homes. The agency works with non-profit and for-profit developers to expand the supply of affordable housing, and also purchases and manages numerous affordable multi-family housing developments throughout the city and county. Fresno Housing Authority owns and manages housing complexes in every city in Fresno County (except Coalinga). Through the Housing Choice Voucher program, the agency provides rental housing to residents throughout the County, enabling qualified individuals and families to identify and reside in diverse housing throughout Fresno City and County.
Fresno Housing does not control the number of vouchers available, and the number of vouchers allocated to the agency is far fewer than the number of eligible families – resulting in a waiting list for Housing Choice Vouchers. There are often waiting lists to secure apartments at developments owned by Fresno Housing. Preference is given to families and some individuals (such as the elderly, the disabled, veterans, and local residents, as well as those with special situations). Of those residents living in Fresno public housing, 50% are extremely low income (compared to 49% in the state); 97% are people of color (versus 38% in California); and 73% are families with children (versus 52% in California).
Because the Fresno Housing Authority is committed to creating a “sense of place” through its developments, it works to ensure that its properties include special features such as architectural adornment, art in public spaces, community gardens, gathering areas, and other elements that enhance the sites themselves, as well as the neighborhoods in which they are situated.
Fresno Housing Authority is at the forefront of building pride in its residents and participants and also setting accountability standards for itself and for the individuals and families with whom it works.
While the public housing authority for the City of Fresno was established in 1940, Fresno County created its own agency, five years later. Through a unique arrangement, the two housing authorities, although separate public agencies, have functioned with a single executive director and staff. Each has its own board of commissioners, but the two meet together. For a while they used two different names.
In 2012, the agency began to use a single name, Fresno Housing Authority (or Fresno Housing and sometimes FH), to encompass all of its operations in both the city and county of Fresno. It was a small but important change and a step toward functioning more effectively and efficiently – increasing the organization’s ability to increase the availability of quality housing for low income families, benefiting each and every person living in Fresno, not just those receiving assistance from the agency.
With good housing, communities are stronger, children come to school more ready to learn, and individuals can become active participants in civic life.
As Fresno Housing celebrates its 75th year of operation, it is cautiously optimistic and strongly committed to working diligently, creatively, and intelligently within a tightly-defined regulatory structure and cognizant of economic realities. The agency understands that its core work involves advancing housing, but its underlying values (as evidenced by its mission statement) ensure that housing is about more than bricks and mortar. It is the mission statement that guides the agency’s short and long term plans and operations – Creating and sustaining vibrant communities throughout Fresno County.