Documenter: Verna Al-Ag

The Scene 

The monthly Regular Joint Meeting of Boards of Commissioners of Fresno Housing was held via Zoom and teleconference per Executive Order N-25-20, which allows local and state legislative bodies to hold meetings via teleconference and to make meetings accessible electronically. 

Most of the commissioners and FH staff had their cameras on, appearing to be in their home or office. Others including Tiffany Mangum who is the Special Assistant to the FH CEO and FH CEO Preston Prince had had the FH logo and the Monarch @ Chinatown residential building design as virtual backgrounds, respectively. The following commissioners: Kelley, Brusseau, Vaillancourt, and Ortiz did not have their cameras on, and the public had participation restrictions in which they could not join via camera nor could they initiate a chat. They could, however, virtually raise their hand during times for public comment in which Chair Jones called for after each agenda discussion and were given three minutes at a time to speak. 

The meeting was called to order at 5:04 PM by Board Chair, Commissioner Jones of the City and roll call was taken by Mangum. Board of Commissioners of the Housing Authority of the City of Fresno present at the meeting were: 

  • Adrian Jones, Eligibility Worker with the Fresno County Department of Social Services, City Chair 

  • Caine Christensen, LCSW PPSC, Director of Student Support Services for Fresno Unified School District, Vice Chair 

  • Stacy Vaillancourt, MBA, Chief Administrative Officer at Saint Agnes Medical Center

  • Terra Brusseau, Owner of the Central Valley Group 

  • Sharon Williams 

  • Ruby Yanez

  • Sabrina Kelley, Community Relations Consultant and Foundation Officer for Wells Fargo Bank 

The Board of Commissioners of the Housing Authority of the County of Fresno present at the meeting were:

  • Cary Catalano, Founder & Chief Executive Officer at Catalano Fenske and Associates, County Chair 

  • Nikki Henry, MPA, Chief Information Officer at Fresno Unified School District, Vice Chair 

  • Valori Gallaher 

  • Edugiben Ortiz 

  • Sophia Ramos, Registered Nurse 

  • Joey Fuentes, Addiction and Substance Abuse Counselor 

In addition, the following Executive Leadership Team members of Fresno Housing Authority were present: 

  • Preston Prince, Executive Director/CEO 

  • Angie Nguyen, Chief of Staff/Director of Strategic Initiatives & Housing Programs 

  • Emily de la Guerra, Director of Finance & Administration

  • Michael Duarte, Director of Planning & Development

  • Tiffany Magnum, Special Assistant to CEO 

  • Juan Lopez, Finance Manager 

Kenneth J. Price, PC Shareholder for Baker Manock & Jensen was also present at the meeting. 

Technological issues including lagged responses and static audio occurred in the beginning which caused amusement for those present and eventually called for the commissioners to mute their microphone if they were not speaking to avoid interruptions. 

After the approval of the agenda, Commissioner Jones called for public comment in which members of the public have the opportunity to address the Boards of Commissioners on topics not listed on the agenda. At the time there were no public comments. Next, Jones called for potential conflicts of interest in which there were also none. 

Consent Agenda 

Chair Jones then moved onto item 5 on the agenda which is Consent Agenda. This part of the meeting took the most time and caused a lot of excitement for the Board as they discussed the details of two recent major achievements which involves securing loans for upcoming housing development projects. 

It began with Eric Payne, Executive Director of the Central  Valley Urban Institute (CVUI), making a public comment and addressing item 5h on the agenda which is the “Consideration of the Loan Agreement – California Endowment Adoption of a Program Related Investment (loan) for the financing of affordable housing in neighborhoods of opportunity”. He asked for clarification on “neighborhoods of opportunity” and the expenditure plan related to funding. He then thanked staff for their commitment to southwest Fresno and congratulated them on securing the Choice Neighborhood grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which is a $450,000 grant in the hopes that it is a down payment for $30 million to improve the quality of public housing in west Fresno. “Commissioners, I really do want to say thank you because this is gonna be some amazing work, some transformative work for a community that has long been ignored. CVUI is in strong support of this item,” Payne said. “Thank you Mr. Payne. It is exciting. Very, very exciting,” Chair Jones said as members of the Board smiled. 

Commissioner Kelley then addresses 5g on the consent agenda which is “Consideration of the Grant Agreement – Choice Neighborhood (HUD) Acceptance of the agreement for the $450,000 planning grant between HUD and the City Housing Authority. Action is being requested by both the City and County Boards.” She asked for background information and more specifically what the risk mitigation plan and residential engagement strategy is. 

After the motion passed for the City Board and County Board to adopt the balance of consent agenda minus 5g and 5h, FH CEO Prince acknowledged the great work of staff, community members and residents who were a part of the process in securing the Choice Neighborhood (CN) grant. “This is an amazing moment that will lead to the next 18 months in writing of the transformation plan,” he said. He also said that the agreement with HUD is nonnegotiable and will be turned in by early next week. A kickoff meeting with HUD will then take place in early February, biweekly internal meetings will be held. Prince plans to report to the Board by next month with a more detailed timeline. 

In response to Commissioner Kelley’s question on leveraging the Choice Neighborhood grant with any other funding, he says that the CN Implementation grant requires a lot of local participation and that the city is a co-applicant and demonstrates a commitment to funding whether it’s infrastructure funding or housing dollars. Their goal is to leverage the grant to accomplish that. Magnum says that the structure for the planning process will include a few committees and that the FH staff hopes for board engagement. 

After a motion was made to accept 5g by the commissioners of the City and County, the board discussed the California Endowment (CE). “I just want to say that we are flabbergasted and gobsmacked over getting this GRI loan with California Endowment; it’s something we’ve been working on for 10 years,” Prince said. He then announced that the Kresge Foundation is also providing the FH with a PRI loan. Both the California Endowment and the Kresge Foundation have never done a PRI loan with a housing authority before. “We did get a call from Kresge head of investment last week…and they said that no one is doing what Fresno Housing is doing. So we’re really excited about this partnership.”

Emily de la Guerra, director of finance & administration for FH, then broke down the PRI loan as requested by Commissioner Kelley: 

  • Stands for Program Related Investment

  • Low cost and favorable terms – $3 million at 2% interest rate and interest only payments in the first 4 years 

  • More of a partnership with CE in which they provide flexibility and the requirements aren’t strict 

  • 50% of the loans must be used in neighborhoods of opportunity to develop housing based opportunity insights which are standards used across the industry

  • 50% of loans can be used to fund other affordable housing priorities such as home ownership, motel conversions, affordable housing in rural areas.

  • Loan is for HRFC not directly to the FH 

  • Will help FH access additional cash flow within HRFC so the boards can make additional investments in other types of projects and provide more affordable housing at a faster rate. 

Guerra then discusses opportunity neighborhoods: 

“Years of segregation, redlining, little investment on affordable housing in these high opportunity areas, in neighborhoods that have really good quality schools, good access to transportation, have a lot of amenities like grocery stores and hospitals, job and economic opportunities which defines a neighborhood of opportunity. Because there has been little investment in affordable and public housing in these neighborhoods a lot of foundations right now as part of their equity strategy and for us internally as part of our strategy are starting to make these investments in neighborhood of opportunity. There are a lot of benefits and data driven information about long term benefits of families living in these neighborhoods of opportunity and we are excited to continue our work on the real estate development side and also with our housing vouchers with our mobility application.” 

Budget Overview and Real Estate Development Update 

The next item on the agenda is the 2021 mixed finance budget, which FH Juan Lopez, Finance Manager presents. He explains that a mixed finance property is owned by limited partnership and developed by different funding sources with each having its own set of rules and regulations. FH is the managing general partner of these partnerships and is responsible for the operations of the partnership. 

The budget goals for 2021 are: 

  • For each property to be self sustaining and to have a positive but not to maximize net operating income (NOI) 

  • To leverage well-performing properties to provide maximum benefits to lenders, partners, and stakeholders which include residents

  • Newer properties focus on stabilization requirements, which means they should perform as originally anticipated 

  • Work closely with property management team to maintain and modernize properties as needed 

  • Provide ample resident services as the property budgets allow 

2021 Budget

  • 31 properties, 2000 units

  • $18.9 mil income – 13.6 mil operating expense = 5.3 mil NOI

  • $600,000 increase from NOI 2020, 270,000 NOE = net cash flow $330,000 

  • NOI per unit increase by $300 (13%) from 2020. 

  • Does not include budget for 4 properties that are under construction: 

  • Effort to monitor property performance is by NOI in which there are three tiers: high, standard, and low 

    • There are 25 high performing and 6 standard performing properties 

  • High cash flow doesn’t mean it comes straight to agency. Waterfall projections mean funds are distributed to FH, Silvercrest, and HRFC 

Real Estate Development Update is presented by FH staff Michael Duarte, director of planning & development: 

  • Allegre Commons (Fresno) – successfully closed in Dec 2020 with a commitment of $1.45 m

  • Esperanza Commons (Mendota) – Potential 9% CTCAC application in Mar 2021 

  • The Arthur @ Blackstone (Fresno) – recently awarded City of Fresno HOME funds $1.6 mil , potential 9% CTCAC application Feb 2021 Mar 2021 

  • Corazon del Valle Commons (Huron) – recently awarded MHP funds totaling $11.4M, potential 9% CTCAC application Feb 2021

Action Items 

  1. Consideration of the Fresno Housing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan

Adoption of the DEI Strategic Plan. 

Preston begins discussion of this item by quoting Brene Brown: “People desperately want to be part of something. They want to experience profound connection with others. They don’t want to sacrifice their authenticity, freedom, or power to do it.  Only when diverse perspectives are included, respected, and valued, can we get to a full picture of the world, who we serve, what they need, and how to successfully meet people where they are.”

Mangum said that the strategic plan process for DEI is data based and involved consultant partners, facilitators, pre and post assessments, individual and group sessions, roundtable sessions, and feedback from community leaders and residents. They are currently recruiting for Chief Diversity Officer and that there are no current material changes to be made to the plan. 

Chief Catalano mentions that there will be an in-depth Saturday workshop in the coming months that will involve key staff members. A public comment was made by Payne in which he referred to a letter he sent that addressed issues problematic to institutional culture rooted in systematic racism. “I know that the agency is committed to reforming a system that is broken,” he said.  

  1. Consideration of Acceptance of Multi-Family Housing Program Loan and Funding Application Submission – Corazon del Valle Commons (Huron RAD) Approval of funding applications for the Huron site. 

Duarte reported on this action item:

  • It is a partnership with City of Huron  

  • Huron sold the property for 1$ and waived impact fees which totaled to $450,000

  • 61 units, 1-4 bedrooms, 6 acres

  • Will include green, community, and civic space 

  • Construction by end of the year. 

  • Action items for consideration: 

    • Acceptance of MHP Award totaling 11.4 mil

    • Submission of CDLAC/CTCAC applications 

    • Inducement resolution for bond issuance 

    • Land seller contribution at appraised value 

    • Provisions of RAD/SEction 18 blend for rental assistance, approval of up to $1 mil FH Capital Funds

Governance Discussion

a. Ad-Hoc Committees – Chief Catalano presented the Ad-Hoc Committees which will be: 

  • Resident engagement and services 

  • Development construction and procurement 

  • Pay scale review 

b. Board Retreat – the retreat will cover board governance and conflict resolution, resident empowerment, DEI. The board hopes to have an in-person retreat by the end of the year. 

Commissioners’ Report 

After the mention of an orientation for three new commissioners, Commissioner Kelley addressed utility allowance and the methodology that’s used to determine the shelter calculation which is currently 30% of the client income that includes utilities and rent. She is concerned about incomes affected by COVID-19 and if the approach is relevant to current conditions. She suggested qualitative data such as family interviews to be collected to help make better decisions. Prince and Chief Catalano proposed to meet with her one on one to discuss this topic which Kelley agreed to. 

Commissioner Williams then challenged the board on its governance, referring to the end of last year. She said that the resident commissioners aren’t taken as seriously compared to the non resident commissioners. “If we’re talking about inclusion, equity, it has to start in the boardroom or it will never filter out into the community. They are residents in which we have been assigned, appointed, and elected to represent. Let’s hear each other with constructive listening skills. Let’s respect each other as equals on the board. I want that to be the foundational truth that we stand on in 2021.” 

Tension filled the meeting as Chief Jones affirms her and asks for public comment in which Price said that public comment is not usually called for on non agenda items. Chief Jones still allows it and Payne responds, “We value you, we appreciate you. This conversation will continue as we look to reconciliation and board development.” 

Prince acknowledged the tension at the board meetings and shared his efforts in personal development. He is taking an 8 week course and currently on week 4 which is conflict resolution and organizational development. He thanks Commissioner Wiilliams for speaking up and said having no conflict is not the goal but learning how to handle creative conflict which is bound to happen when they are doing high risk work that requires many viewpoints. 

Executive Director’s Report 

  • Stay at home order lifted. Business to open with some restrictions. Fresno is in the purple tier. Agency’s operations aren’t affected, but the board will be notified if significant changes will take place. Prince said they’re closely monitoring the COVID situation and looking for vaccine resources for residents. 

  • Launch of the new website It is resident-focused and will . monitor queries and searches by residents. 

  • Resident empowerment highlights presented through social media 

  • Resident Service Conference is virtual and focuses on affordable housing 

  • Beautify Fresno clean up event on February 20th which will feature the Parkway Drive Corridor, which is FH’s housing project. Some of the staff will be volunteering at the event which will be socially distanced and supplied with PPE.

  • Virtual conference on March 2-3 

  • Prince congratulates staff on CNI award, Huron award, PRI loans from and California Endowment and Kresge which he called a “game changer” 

  • FH 2 new hires and 3 promotions announced 


Chief Jones adjourned the meeting at 7:16 PM as a few of the FH staff stayed for the Silvercrest meeting. 

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