Documenter: Ramiro Merino

Summary

  • The speakers during Public Comment expressed their support for a “transparent and equitable” search committee and process for the Public Employment Appointment for the Interim CEO/Executive Director role. 

  • Despite the pandemic, Prince still provided 2020 agency highlights that they accomplished, including the $7.6 million acquisition of the motels for housing.

  • The Fresno Housing Resident Safety and Survey Update indicated that there are three Safety Enhancement Strategies in place: security personnel, safety features, and resident services. 

  • The Board approved the employment agreement for the Interim CEO role to be filled by Angie Nguyen, who currently serves as the Chief Program Officer. Nguyen is the first female and person of color to serve as the Executive Director for Fresno Housing Authority in its 80 year history. 

Purpose of Agency

The Fresno Housing is governed by 14 Commissioners, seven of whom are appointed as City Commissioners and seven of whom are appointed as County Commissioners. 

Five of the City Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor of the City of Fresno to serve four-year, staggered terms. Two are appointed to two-year terms from among residents receiving housing assistance from Fresno Housing. Similarly, five of the County Commissioners are appointed by the Board of Supervisors, and two are residents receiving assistance from Fresno Housing. 

Fresno City Board Members

  • Adrian Jones, Chair

  • Caine Christensen, Vice-Chair

  • Terra Brusseau, Commissioner

  • Sabrina Kelley, Commissioner

  • Stacy Vaillancourt, Commissioner

  • Sharon Williams, Commissioner

  • Ruby Yanez, Commissioner

Fresno County Board Members

  • Cary Catalano, Chair

  • Nikki Henry, Vice-Chair

  • Joey Fuentes, Commissioner

  • Valori Gallaher, Commissioner

  • Edugiben Ortiz, Commissioner

  • Sophia Ramos, Commissioner

  • Stacy Sablan, Commissioner

Fresno Executive Housing Leadership

  • Preston Prince, CEO/Executive Director

  • Tracewell Hanrahan, Deputy Executive Director

  • Angie Nguyen, Chief Program Officer

  • Emily De La Guerra, Chief Business Officer

  • Michael Duarte, Chief Real Estate Officer

  • Tiffany Mangum, Special Assistant to the CEO

The Scene

The meeting was called to order Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021 at 5:03 p.m. by the City Board Chair, Jones. Roll Call was taken by Mangum, the Special Assistant to CEO Prince. The meeting was held virtually through Zoom, where the link was provided on the meeting agenda. Per Executive Order N-25-20, local and state legislative bodies are able to hold meetings via teleconference and make the meetings accessible electronically. Most of the Commissioners and Fresno Housing Staff had their cameras on, which they appeared to be in their homes or offices. The public was restricted from turning on their camera, using their microphones (unless given permission), and from using the chat feature to comment; however, the Q&A feature was open to the public. Members of the public had to raise their hand virtually during the meeting when appropriate, at which they were allowed to speak. 

After the approval of agenda, County Chair Catalano called for public comment, which one member of the public commented on. A resident stated she had put down a $750 fee for an apartment, but does not want to move there because it is in an unsafe neighborhood and she is much older. “All of the offices are closed so there’s no one to talk to. Am I going to lose the voucher?” Mangum recommended she email the email she initially sent her question in order to receive direct contact to help her address this. Chair Catalano asked if there were any conflicts of interest, which there were none. Chair Adrian asked Catalano that she would like to run the meeting, at which Catalano agreed. 

Ceremonial Presentations

A recognition video was played to honor the 14 years of service of Preston Prince as Fresno Housing CEO and Executive Director. People stated “Thank you for changing how we see affordable housing in Fresno.” “You certainly set the bar high for your successor. “You have done an incredible job. You are someone I have a lot of respect for. You are a very committed person who makes sure people have a roof over their head.” Furtado shared that anyone from the public can record a video for Prince and send it to communication@fresnohousing.org, which he will receive before he leaves Fresno. 

Catalano opened the discussion with a statement “We are going to work very hard to find a suitable replacement for you. I really value your work.” Nikkki Henry said “I think I am still in shock that you are actually leaving. You have been such a force in the community. I have always looked up to you for your passion and vigorance. Our community needs fighters.” Adrian Jones said, “Cinderella said she just got her second dose so she is expecting a hug before you leave. I want to thank you for trying your best to help me. This has by far been the best dysfunctional functional partnership. I love you like I love my shoes. Thank you Sharron for sharing Preston with Fresno.” Mangum congratulated Prince for his leadership and his work. “I was charged with working with him during some of his best moments and some of his not so best moments. Nothing that is easy will last and nothing that lasts is easy.” 

Prince stated, “The last 15 years have been an incredible journey. I feel joy in my heart when I think about this community and agency. I want you to be intentional about the needs of the community in making your selection. You all have the opportunity to elevate Fresno Housing.” 

Consent Agenda

Catalano moved to the next agenda item, which was the Consent Calendar. The Board Commissioners approved the following agenda items:

  • Governance: Consideration of the Minutes of January 26, 2021

  • Governance: Consideration of the Minutes of February 23, 2021

  • Procurement: Consideration of Contract – Wells Fargo Bank Services

  • Considerations of Joe Serna Grant Application – Citrus Gardens (Orange Cove)

  • Consideration of Joe Serna Grant Application – La Joya Commons (Firebaugh) 

2020 Agency Highlights

Prince reported on the 2020 Agency Highlights. He stated that Fresno Housing received $2 million for a housing corridor. He also stated that “we offered $75,000 to about 60-70 people, which is just incredible.” There was a $7.6 million acquisition of the motel for Homekey Project which he stated that “this has been the most transformational project in my career.” 

Resident Safety and Survey Update

Nguyen presented on the Fresno Housing Resident Safety and Survey Update related to the police contract. She stated that 860 unique households were reached. “These are the residents that receive services from the two officers.” Phase 2 of the plan included the Property and Neighborhood Safety Survey. This survey reached 15,130 unique households, where 1,977 residents responded. Nguyen stated that in order to address the concerns from the residents, they hosted a discussion with them to gather feedback. “There were 24 resident conversation sessions held.” There were three Safety Enhancement Strategies in the plan, which are: 

  • Security personnel: “Each resident we spoke with expressed value for security personnel but differed in their preference between uniformed police officers and private security. Residents who live in properties in 93706 have a strong preference for the authority of a uniformed police officer, whereas properties in all other zip codes prefer the prospect of greater service hours from private security personnel or are agnostic in their preference.” 

  • Safety features: “Each resident we spoke with agreed that additional safety features would positively impact their sense of safety, however, improvements identified varied by site and were unique to property characteristics.” 

  • Resident services: “Each resident we spoke with expressed appreciation for the services Fresno Housing provides. Residents articulated value for every service provided and were able to identify some new peonteila services including sewing, arts & crafts, and recipe sharing. Residents conveyed their value for activities that build community because of their positive impact upon safety.”

Eric Payne addressed the comments made about the data. “I want to correct the statement that we do have the data.I was asking for clarity and I also recognize that we have conflicting schedules. We are making an effort to reconcile and address the concerns on the data.” At this, Catalano said “If you are going to criticize us for not being transparent, then I will criticize you for your lack of transparency with the data.” Payne again commented ““You can’t engage an agency that does not want to engage.” Catalano said that Nguyen would again reach out to Payne and clarify his questions, despite the numerous attempts of trying to get a hold of him and the data he was to provide. 

Real Estate Development: Homekey Update

Nguyen stated “It was an area we wished we could have revitalized but we were not sure how to make it happen. There is a need but we do not know how to get there. There were additional funds to address the homeless or those at-risk for homelessness.” The engagement strategy for the Homekey Project is low barrier emergency/transitional housing, which includes people, partners and pets. This also includes on-site services, which are assessments for diversion services, and support services with a focus on safe exits to stable housing options, including housing research. The exit strategies include creating housing opportunities through turnover in existing supportive housing inventory. 

Closed Session

The Board then adjourned for a closed session at 6:57 p.m. The closed session items included:

  • Conference with Real Property Negotiators: HACF, Singh Daljit, Surinker Kaur

  • Conference with Real Property Negotiators: HACF, Naresh Patel, Ragini Patel

  • Conference with Real Property Negotiators: Mahani Krupa, Inc. 

  • Public Employment: CEO

  • Public Employment: Interim CEO

Action

After about 40 minutes in discussion, the Board resumed the meeting at 7:40 p.m. The Board unanimously approved the following action items: 

  • Authorization for Board Chairs to Execute an Amendment to Employment Agreement for Interim CEO Angie Nguyen

  • Authorization for Interim CEO Nguyen to Execute All Necessary Agreements and Documents on Behalf of the Agency 

  • Consideration of Acceptance of the 2020 Year-End Financial and HAP Results

  • Consideration of an Amended Contract Agreement – EJP Planning Consulting Group

Mangum presented on the EJP Planning Consulting Group. “There are a total of 228 LIPH units, with five housing sites. There are 656 current residents, where 46% are children under the age of 18.” The second element to the plan is the People Strategy, which includes to partner with residents, build upon the existing priorities and Resident Advisory Committeework, leverage locally-driven strategies, activate existing and potential partnerships, and revisit the priorities (education, economic development). “This will be a yes-no approach in terms of what are the needs of the residents.” The Neighborhood Strategy is to invest in existing assets and build upon the existing needs and priorities. This includes small business development, mixed-use development, public safety, and critical community. Within the grant, they identified early action activities, which includes neighborhood broadband and digital access, fresh food market (pop-up), innovation center hub, and transit-mobility project. The residents came together and provided ideas on what California Ave could look like, including transit, walkways, bike lanes, landscapes, and building. “It’s important to elevate their voices and capacities.” 

She stated “EJP is a great consulting firm. They have been able to leverage $3 million across neighborhoods. We have a solid team that can not only deliver, but exceed our expectations.” The total budget for this work is a little over $1 million. The Dignity Team , who are the resident ambassadors, will be involved with the project hands-on. She stated “We need to put the policy into the action.” Jones reiterated her three A’s related to housing, which are “action, accessibility, and affordability.” Eric Payne stated that the HUD Presentation “was absolutely outstanding. The level of engagement and focus from the residents with their participation. Even the commissioners did an outstanding job in representing the potential that exists with what Fresno could be. This is an amazing way to leave on a high-note. Thank you Preston for elevating these housing conversations.” 

Commissioner’s Report

Jones asked if all of the Commissioners had received their Commissioner Handbook, at which Mangum said they will be shipped ASAP. Jones attended the National Commissioners meeting where the topic discussed was to “really engage the residents and the cities in which we live in.” Chair Catalano stated to be on the lookout in the coming weeks as they will discuss the County of Fresno. Yanes reported she attended a neighborhood meeting and commented as a resident. “I was excited for the meeting and what this could mean for us.” Prince said he will be unemployed this Thursday for the first time in his professional career in a while, at which people laughed. He invited everyone for a celebration this Thursday and to the staff meeting next Tuesday. 

Adjournment

Chair Catalano adjourned the meeting at 8:37 p.m., at which the Commissioners said good night. 

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