Documenter: Heather Halsey Martinez

Here’s what you need to know

  • The commissioners approved a $318,028 police contract ($200,357 prorated amount) and up to an additional $200,000 for Fresno Housing to seek and find community benefit organizations to promote safety, advocacy and healing. Commissioner Kelley was the only vote in opposition, though a few public comments were made opposing the approval as well. 

  • The City and County Commissioners were split 50-50 on moving forward the purchase of Valley Inn, another potential Project HomeKey site on Parkway Drive. Ultimately, the city commissioner’s votes alone were enough to move forward the purchase and sale agreement to the City of Fresno for $6,955,000. County commissioners said they were not ready to move forward until the Fresno City Council considered the item and it was possibly given more time. 

  • After a year-long search, Fresno Housing has hired Marc Bady as its Chief Diversity Officer.

  • Approved bi-annual contract renewal for funding and operations for the Parlier Migrant Center, a 131-unit migrant farm worker housing complex open seasonally to those who have permanent residence over 50 miles from Parlier.

  • Approved authorizing Angelina Nguyen, Interim CEO, to be the authorized signer for multifamily housing program loan of $11,398,771 for Corazon del Valle Commons in Huron. The project site consists of approximately 6.60 acres located at the Southwest and Southeast corners of 12th and Fresno Streets. It is envisioned as 61 multifamily units, a community building and up to 3,500-square-feet of commercial space.

The Scene

The Fresno Housing Authority joint meeting of the boards of commissioners took place on Tuesday, May 25, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. The joint board meeting packet states that due to executive order N-25-20, the meeting will be held electronically and accessible via teleconference and Zoom. Some meetings are also viewable on CMAC.

The Fresno Housing Authority is governed by 14 commissioners, seven of whom are appointed as city commissioners and seven 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.

As the commissioners joined the Zoom call, Tiffany Mangum, special assistant to the housing authority’s CEO, noted that Brusseau and Gallaher may not be joining the meeting. Catalano said Gallaher was attending a rosary and would join the meeting late. Ramos said she would not be available for the next meeting because she will be turning 50 that day.

The meeting began at 5:04 p.m. Brusseau, Williams, Henry and Gallaher were not present. But Wiliams joined the meeting a few minutes later. 

City Commissioners:

Adrian Jones, Chairperson (also Marriage and Family Therapist at North Star Wellness Group)

Caine Christensen, Vice Chair (also Director of Student Support Services for Fresno Unified)

Terra Brusseau, Commissioner (also owner of The Central Valley Group)

Sabrina Kelley, Commissioner (also Community Relations Consultant and Foundation Officer for Wells Fargo Bank )

Stacy Vaillancourt, Commissioner (also Chief Administrative Officer for Saint Agnes Medical Center)

Sharon Williams, Commissioner (also retired Fresno Juvenile Hall counselor)

Ruby Yanez, Commissioner 

County Commissioners:

Cary Catalano, Chairperson (also owner of Catalano Fenske & Associates)

Nikki Henry, Vice Chair (also CIO for Fresno Unified School District)

Joey Fuentes, Commissioner (also trainer and mentor at Fresno’s Main Event boxing)

Valori Gallaher, Commissioner (also Caruthers School Boardmember)

Edugiben Ortiz, Commissioner (one of two resident commissioners)

Sophia Ramos, Commissioner (also registered nurse)

Stacy Sablan, Commissioner (also owner of Sablan Legal Services)

Jones opened the meeting by highlighting that May is mental health awareness week and affordable housing awareness week. 

Fresno Housing Authority Interim CEO/Executive Director Angie Nguyen also acknowledged that May is affordable housing month and recognized all Fresno Housing staff members. “Fresno Housing makes a difference every day in the lives of nearly 50,000 residents that we serve,” she said.  She said the City of Fresno would be virtually presenting Fresno Housing and with a proclamation on Thursday at 9 a.m. and invited the commissioners to join them. 

Nguyen then introduced Marc Bady as the new Chief Diversity Officer for Fresno Housing. She said he started this week and was hired after a year-long search. He previously worked as the CDO at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “He’s certainly going to help accelerate the work we’ve been thinking about and talking about and now we’re going to put it into action,” Nguyen said. “It’s things like increasing the power and influence of diversity in our workforce and elevating the power of inclusion in our culture and our workplace and really just appreciating the diversity, equity and inclusion and the role that it plays in our community and in our agency.” 

During public comments, Shyelance Allen called into the meeting to speak about agenda item 9b regarding the police and safety services contract. The commissioners told him that he would be able to comment on that specifically later in the meeting. 

Eric Payne of the Central Valley Urban Institute also called in and welcomed Brady to the agency. He said that he sent a letter to the agency with concerns about, “the culture shift within the organization.” 

Consent Items

  • Approved minutes of the April 27 meeting.

  • Approved bi-annual contract renewal for funding and operations for the Parlier Migrant Center, a 131-unit migrant farm worker housing complex open seasonally to those who have permanent residence over 50 miles from Parlier. The contract provides operational funding of up to $1,611,996 for two consecutive years through June 30, 2023, an increase of $397,957 over the prior two-year contract.

  • Approved authorizing Angelina Nguyen, Interim CEO, to be the authorized signer for multifamily housing program loan of $11,398,771 for Corazon del Valle Commons in Huron. The project site consists of approximately 6.60 acres located at the Southwest and Southeast corners of 12th and Fresno Streets. It is envisioned as 61 multifamily units, a community building and up to 3,500-square-feet of commercial space.

Fresno Housing Deputy Executive Director Tracewell Hanrahan then introduced the 2020 financial results for the mixed finance properties portfolio. She said this is a portfolio that did not exist 12 years ago. Before going further, Hanrahan said the Housing Authority of the City of Fresno and Fresno County received a prestigious award for excellence in financial reporting for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2019 from the Government Finance Officers Association. She said it was received in April and is, “the highest form of recognition for excellence in state and local government in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting.” She went on to say there are more than 80,000 state and local governments throughout the United States and there were just 4,300 of the certificates awarded in 2019 and only 17 housing authorities received the award and only three housing authorities in California. She said Fresno Housing received two of the three in California, one for the city and one for the county. 

Hanrahan then turned it over to Juan Lopez of Fresno Housing to present more information on the mixed finance properties portfolio. He said these are properties owned by a limited partnership and that mixed finance means that several funding sources were used to develop the properties, including tax credits, private mortgages and HOME funds. 31 properties were included in the 2020 budgets providing approximately 2,000 units. 27 of the properties were considered high performers, three were standard performers and one was a low performing property. Lopez said a total of $1.7 million will be distributed to Fresno Housing and its affiliated entities from various properties as part of the annual cash flow distributions. 

Williams asked for clarification on what makes a high or low performing property. Lopez said it’s based on net operating expenses. 

Chief Real Estate Officer Michael Duarte updated the commissioners on upcoming real estate development activities. He said they are applying for 9% tax credit opportunities for five properties. He said results are pending for The Arthur at Blackstone and Esperanza Commons. 

Catalano thanked Duarte and said he really had his fingers crossed for the Blackstone property. Jones then said there were some requests to rearrange the agenda for tonight, but Jones said they would deny that request. 

The public portion of the meeting adjourned at 5:49 p.m. The commission then moved into a closed session to discuss property negotiations regarding properties on Parkway Drive in Fresno known as Parkway Inn (959 N. Parkway Drive) and Valley Inn (933 N. Parkway Drive).

They reconvened for open session at 6:34 p.m. and had no actions to report back from the closed session. 


  • The commissioners were split 50-50 on a purchase and sale agreement to the City of Fresno, including the right of first refusal for Valley Inn Motel located at 933 N. Parkway Drive in Fresno. The motel consists of 107 motel rooms and commons facilities on 2.42 acres. It is located in close proximity to Fresno Housing ‘s operating Project HomeKey sites.

    • Fresno Housing General Counsel Kenneth Price said he wanted to update some incorrect information in the agenda, including the purchase price should be $6,955,000 and corrected parcel number.

    • The city commissioners voted unanimously yes, while the county commissioners voted unanimously no. 

    • Catalano said he would like the city council to vote on the item first and then they could reconvene to consider. 

    • Price then responded that this split vote is unusual and that this is technically a contract between the City of Fresno and the Fresno Housing Authority. “We try hard to encourage the boards to act in a manner that’s consistent,” he said. 

    • Price went on to say they have a few options: the city or county can reconsider its actions or propose amendments, or simply let the item stand, in which the city housing authority would still be obligated to consent to the assignment. 

    • Jones said she would let their decision stand, unless the county would like to reconsider. 

    • “I think it would be wonderful if the city council could deliberate this item on Thursday and come back to us,” Catalano said. “But I’m not going to change my position on this.”

    • Price said that because the assignment is with the City, not the County, he believes the item can move forward.

    • Nguyen asked if anyone on the county side has any recommendations or added language that would help them all come to an agreement. 

    • “I totally understand the county’s position, like I said before, we’ve definitely been up this tree before several times,” Jones said. “But at the same time, I’m really about picking my fights and I just don’t feel like this is one in this moment to prove that point for me. I don’t see us losing anything by going with staff’s original recommendations.” 

    • “It is OK folks that we don’t always 100 percent agree…we need to accept the fact that it is a city project,” Catalano said. “I think we just aren’t ready and I think a couple of weeks delay and I think the council member had even expressed a desire to see if we could strengthen the relationship, that carries a tremendous amount of weight to me and I think we could’ve come back with a better deal. We could’ve made this a really great partnership and it’s just not ideal to me. I feel like we’re being forced and I’m not going to play, that’s how it rolls.” 

    • “Chair Jones, I think we’re good for the city to negotiate the terms for the city housing authority,” Catalano said. 

  • Approved $200,357 prorated contract for police services (total is $318,028) through Fresno Police Department and authorized up to an additional $200,000 for Fresno Housing to seek and find community benefit organizations to promote safety, advocacy and healing.

    • Nguyen shared two options that were discussed at April’s meeting.

    • Staff recommended the first option that would renew the contract for two dedicated officers working seven days a week, ten-hour shifts, in addition to an investment in community organizations to provide services.

    • They are proposing a commitment by the police department to operate on a platoon schedule, which allows for 5/10s and 3/10s. 

    • They would also like to control the officer’s schedule, have consistent foot patrols, be involved in the hiring process and ensure they are engaging with residents.

    • Nguyen said they are also asking for more detailed monthly reports that include relevant site activity, off-site activity, calls for service, response rates, comparative crimes by site and demographic data related to contacts made on site. 

    • “This work is evolving and we want to make sure that we continue the dialogue,” Nguyen said. “We know that it’s important to have brainstorming sessions with stakeholders and our community partners about different community services and supports that they would like to see.” 

    • Kelley asked about the community service organizations involvement and whether they were pro-police or anti-police and how their sentiments would serve the youth and seniors they support. 

      • Nguyen said they don’t have all the organizations identified, but they were getting educated on the different perspectives out there. She said she spoke to leaders from Building Healthy Communities, Barrios Unidos and other organizations. “What’s important here is that we provide those options for residents that allow them to identify for themselves what their stance is so that they can decide in the future whether they want to rely on a police contract,” Nguyen said.

      • Kelley went on to ask if there was an opportunity to pause on the contract to do the work requested in the last meeting, which was, “a roundtable discussion that includes the voices of those who were not heard.” “I would really like us to pause to see if we can take the time we need to do this,” Kelley said. “Maybe hosting a Zoom call or roundtable just to give those voices that were missed an opportunity to be heard.” 

      • Nguyen said her reasons for moving forward with the contract is that a pause would potentially remove the police officers they currently have in place and then they would potentially lose the officer consistency that they have had for more than a year. She said the Fresno Police Department currently has 35 contracts that they are unable to fill and worries they would not be able to get officers back if they were to pause. 

    • Jones said that they will be doing workshops and that resident participation is a priority in the next year’s budget.

    • “What I am concerned about is the current status of community policing and its impact on people of color,” Kelley said. “And also looking at…policing as one of the primary and most cost burden options that we have for safety.” She goes on to ask if alternative safety strategies have been discussed.

    • Kelley also commented on the data used to come to this conclusion that residents would like to maintain its police contract. “I am really about the residents and that we make decisions that impact all of the residents including the 30 percent that did respond but more importantly finding what the 70 percent feel and think about this investment as well,” she said.  

    • Mangum said they received a letter that was requested to be read during public comments. The letter asked the commission to reflect on the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd and other incidences of police brutality. “The one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder is a stark reminder of the work that remains to protect Black bodies in California and across the nation,” she read. “Work that begins in recognizing how our institutions continue to perpetuate implicit bias towards Black and Brown communities of color, people experiencing poverty and unsheltered individuals.” 

      • Sablan appeared to wipe tears away from her eyes during the reading. 

    • Shyelance Allen, a 17-year-old high school senior, addressed the commissioners in opposition. He asked them to invest the money into resident services, such as youth development and student housing. “I’ve seen first-hand the impacts of harm and abuse that police officers cause and disrupt our lives,” Allen said. He said that when he was 11-years-old he saw a police officer point a gun at his 8-year-old niece. 

  • Nourbese Flint, executive director of Black Women for Wellness Action Project, also addressed the commissioners in opposition. “As our state dives deep on how to address racial equity, I’m disappointed that the commission has decided to invest funds that could be invested in youth development and other COVID efforts that do more harm reduction than policing communities.” 

  • Payne also addressed the commissioners in opposition. “They have invested millions over the last decade to over-police some of its most marginalized Black and Brown residents in the country,” he said. “This time the public is crying out and saying enough is enough, it’s a new day and we need to create a new way to support and uplift our community through strategies centered around harm reduction.” 

    • While Payne was talking Yanez’s camera, which had previously shown her face looked as if it were being covered by her hand and then showed a Trump flag and yellow Gadsden flag hanging on the wall for several seconds before her camera was turned off for the remainder of the meeting. She was heard on the Zoom call later, but her video did not come back on. 

  • Fresno Housing District Manager Lorena Betancourt spoke in agreement with the commissioner’s decision to approve. She said that she is at the properties herself and has spoken to residents. “I have seen first-hand the need for the police presence at some of our sites,” she said. “Unfortunately we are trying to do everything that we can with our resources and we need the police to be present at some of our sites.” “I urge you to consider the comments of our residents and staff because they are the ones that are there at our property,” she said. She went on to invite the commissioners to tour the properties to see why they need a police presence. “It is our job to give them a safe community to live in,” Betancourt said. 

  • Jones thanked everyone for their comments and said as the, “Black chair with one child who is a male and who was 21-years old when Trayvon Martin was murdered that I hear everyone.” She said she understands, but that she feels they need to move forward with the 12-month contract. 

  • Williams said that she sees the unfairness and she hears it, but she refuses to give up her safety net because of what someone did. “I’m a Black woman who sat in a courtroom and watched, as far as I’m concerned, a very racist judge give my son 85 years to life,” she said. “But at the same time, I walk these streets and I have other children and other grandchildren, I know that there is an imbalance going on and it’s not going to be fixed by jeopardizing my health and listening to these helicopters going over our house every night.” She went on to say she lives in Legacy Commons and they need the police protection. 

  • Kelley asked Williams if she thought that police would be responsive to the housing authority communities if they were not on contract with Fresno Housing. Williams said that the police officers she knows would be responsive because that is their public duty. 

    • Kelley said that then they would be responsive regardless of being on Fresno Housing payroll and how those funds could be better used to serve the population and community. She said there is no data showing that they have a higher response rate because they are paying for it.

  • Yanez said she agreed with Williams. During her comments it sounded like she was muting and unmuting herself and a man could be heard commenting on the situation in the background. “I’m very against the whole issue with the George Floyd going on, that happened in a whole different area, the police officers here should not be blamed for something that happened not here,” she said. As she spoke a male voice could also be heard saying, “We got family that’s Black.” “Every police officer is different and I love my colored people to death and absolutely I believe police officers wearing a badge should honor their badge and do their job.” “I can honestly say if this don’t go through, I’m going to be in fear of my life and my children’s lives,” Yanez said. “We hear a helicopter every night, every night and gunshots going off, we don’t even know where the bullets coming from.”

  • Ramos asked if there have been any complaints or issues with the two officers serving the communities. Nguyen said they haven’t received any comments regarding the two current officers or any of the previous officers. 

    • Sablan said that shortly before the pandemic the officers gave a presentation during the meeting and they were given a standing ovation for their service to their properties.

  •  Kelley voted no; all others present voted in favor.                                          

From there, the meeting was open for commissioners’ reports. Sablan asked for the details for the meeting next month since they were considering moving to an in-person meeting. Vaillancourt also asked if there would be a virtual option as well and it was confirmed that there would be. Ramos joked that they want to stay in their pajamas. Yanez said she hosted a community meeting with her neighbors last month. 

Jones allowed an additional public comment from Eric Payne. He said he hopes the commissioners have thoroughly reviewed the police contract that was approved. He said there are stipulations in the contract that look at the number of response calls to a residence that would put them at risk of being evicted, which he said could be something as simple as two residents not getting along. While he talked, Nguyen was seen shaking her head. “There is no need to over police low income communities of color,” Payne said. 

Nguyen then provided a report to the commission. She said they are partnering with the Fresno County Department of Public Health to administer COVID-19 vaccines and recently vaccinated 78 individuals in Firebaugh. She said there was another clinic today. They will host a community meeting June 3 via Zoom for the Avalon Commons project. Additionally, they will celebrate the SoliVita Commons grand opening on June 29. She said they are also scheduling board workshops and a retreat in October.

Nguyen said that HUD has given out emergency housing vouchers and they have accepted an additional 295 vouchers, plus 50 more if they become available. 

The meeting adjourned at 8:00 p.m.

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