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Good morning, and welcome to the Fresnoland Lab newsletter. Today is Friday, June 26th.
Today, we’re going to share a few excerpts from our main stories we reported on this week.
From Dympna Ugwu-Oju, Critics challenge Fresno Housing Authority’s contract with Fresno Police Department
For 30 years, the Housing Authorities of the City and County of Fresno maintained a $194,363 per year contract with the Fresno Police Department.
The contract expires on June 30; the CEO of the housing authority has the power to renew it without the board of commissioners’ input, but chooses to hold open discussions to get feedback from the community — particularly the tenants of public housing who would be most impacted by the decision.
“The board and the staff,” Tracewell Hanrahan, deputy executive director, said, “wanted to have public discussion about the services provided by Fresno PD.” The agency would engage with the public and all stakeholders, gauge community feelings about the renewal, and solicit their thoughts on how to proceed. The housing authority staff will follow the proceedings of the newly constituted police reform commission closely.
Several community organizations condemned the agency’s relationship with the police department.
“We have 30 years of systemic issues built into the Housing Authority’s relationship with the police,” said Kiel Lopez-Schmidt, design consultant on five Fresno Housing Authority developments, urging commissioners to “request data from the Fresno Police Department, look into the arrests, violent confrontations and who has been excluded from housing.”
Many of the opponents of renewing the contract referred to the troubled relationship between the police and communities of color.
Most of the people who receive services from the Housing Authority are from communities of color. Of the people who opt for Section 8 vouchers, 55% are Latinx; 26% are Black; 12% are white, and 8% are Asian.
Among the residents of public housing, 77% are Latinx; 12% are Black; 4% are white and 5% are Asian.
Fresnoland will follow the housing authority’s discussions with their stakeholders and keep you informed about this very important topic.
Dayana Jiselle launched the first of a new series, “Behind the Mask,” which looks to explore how different people are navigating the complexities of life post-shelter-in-place. The first in the series explores a day in the life of an undocumented restaurant worker.
“I’ll be back in about a week… maybe 15 days.”
That’s what Reyna Rubio thought when the restaurant where she works as a manager/server called to tell her she would not be needed until further notice. That was March 18.
Rubio (her name has been changed by The Bee to protect her identity as an undocumented individual) became afraid for her 20-year-old daughter who, at the time, was visiting family in Puerto Rico. Her three sisters and mother live in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Rubio is unable to see them because of her undocumented status.
When two weeks turned into three without work or income, Rubio realized the pandemic was bigger and far more destructive than she could have ever imagined.
Rubio knew she would not be eligible for California’s unemployment benefits and the Economic Impact Payment stimulus check. Her only option was to turn to her savings of about $3,000 and hope it would be enough to get her through the coming weeks.
“My money became like gold,” she said. “I had to make sure it would last, and I was smart on how I would use it.”
Rubio ran into challenges accessing California’ s assistance for undocumented people during the pandemic. She faced what many undocumented people in the state are still struggling with.
The restaurant has now reopened, but Rubio’s routine has changed — staff is reminded every 30 minutes to wash their hands; booths and tables must be wiped down several times a day, whether they are used or not, and every customer must have their temperature read as they walk in the door — rules that translate into more work for employees.
“This new way of life feels so cold to me,” Rubio said. “My clients, especially the elderly, come in for interaction, not so much the food. Now I have to wear this plastic face-shield and they have a mask on. It doesn’t feel the same.”
Do you have ideas on who we should profile next for the Behind the Mask series? Send your ideas to email@example.com.
And now, the week’s top reads:
(For the most recent local coronavirus updates, visit www.fresnobee.com/coronavirus.)
A few weeks ago, we interviewed community organizer Marcel Woodruff, who has been advocating for the Fresno City Council to approve funding for a violence prevention program called Advance Peace. The city council approved funding for the program at its meeting this week with a veto-proof majority. Fresno Bee
California first state in nation to require diesel vehicle manufacturers to go electric. Fresno Bee
As COVID-19 devastates senior care homes, Fresno-area families struggle to help elders. Fresno Bee
Could “real repercussions” of Covid-19 trigger a rollback of Fresno businesses reopening? Fresno Bee
Fresno moves forward with solar energy plan, expected to save city $100 million over two decades. Fresno Bee
Sequoia, Kings Canyon to remove all mentions of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from parks. Visalia Times-Delta
$15 million grant will address racial equity, poverty in Fresno’s communities of color. Fresno Bee
LeeAnn Eager, CEO of the Fresno County Economic Development Commission, has been appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to serve on the California Transportation Commission. Cal Streetsblog
Housing index says inventory is still a problem in Fresno. The Business Journal
How Fresno County’s pension fund is helping finance its recovery. NextCity
Dos Palos residents had their water shutoff this week due to algae concerns. Merced Sun-Star
In letter to Congress, water agencies call for drinking water relief funding. Valley Public Radio
Electric utility companies along the west coast are proposing a program to install electric truck vehicle charging stations along Interstate 5. San Diego Union-Tribune
The race/ethnicity demographic is changing. For the first time, for people under age 16 in 2019, nonwhites and Hispanics were in the majority, according to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday. Los Angeles Times
An increasing number of centrist and conservative-leaning corporate leaders are joining in the call for racial justice as peaceful protests have consumed the country since George Floyd died while in Minneapolis police custody. Los Angeles Times
Yosemite National Park has been open for two weeks, but most of its camping grounds are still off limits through the end of July because of the rise in coronavirus cases in California. Fresno Bee
Incentive program intended to help underserved communities disproportionately benefits wealthy investors, study finds. Bloomberg CityLab
One of the unplanned benefits of COVID-19 pandemic’s shutdown has been the cleaner air around the globe. Scientists are hoping policy makers would use data from this period to fine-tune air quality and climate change laws and regulations in hopes of maintaining some of the gains. New York Times
California is re-evaluating its landmark climate law, cap-and-trade. Cal Matters