Documenter: Heather Halsey Martinez

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The commissioners approved six items on the consent agenda, including a $340,000 AT&T contract for internet and phone services. After the fact, two commissioners and a member of the public expressed concerns about awarding the contract to AT&T due to its history of digital redlining

  • Fresno Housing’s 2022 Annual Plan will be made available online to the public on Friday, July 30. The public can provide comments during a 45-day public comment period, which will end on Sept. 12. 

  • The search for a new Fresno Housing CEO is progressing and ad hoc committee members will begin virtual interviews with nine candidates next week. The hiring process is expected to last until September or October.

The meeting (in full)

The Scene

The Fresno Housing Authority joint meeting of the boards of commissioners took place on Tuesday, July 27, 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 in-person for commissioners only and accessible via teleconference and Zoom for all members of the public. Meeting recordings are not easily available online. 

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.

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)

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

Vacant, Commissioner (open due to the resignation of Terra Brusseau prior to the July 9 meeting)

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)

As the commissioners joined the Zoom meeting, Jones mentioned she had been in a closed session for five minutes. Gallaher mentioned she was puppy sitting and may need to be excused for a few minutes during the meeting. While Henry said she was going to turn her camera off so she could eat dinner. Catalano commented that they had a, “great ad hoc meeting today.” 

Tiffany Mangum, special assistant to the housing authority’s CEO, welcomed commissioners and members of the public to the Zoom meeting. Commissioner Jones led the meeting. 

The meeting began at 5:05 p.m. Commissioners Jones, Gallaher, Vaillancourt, Henry, Ortiz, Christensen, Ramos, Catalano and Williams had their video on at the beginning of the meeting. Fuentes, Kelley and Sablan were present by phone only and were not seen on Zoom. Yanez did not speak initially during roll call, but was present via audio only a minute later. 

Additionally, the following staff members were present via video: Mangum, Chief Real Estate Officer Michael Duarte, Chief Diversity Officer Marc’ Bady, Deputy Executive Director Tracewell Hanrahan, Attorney Kenneth Price and Interim CEO/Executive Director Angie Nguyen.

No public comments were made. 

Consent Items

  • Approved minutes of the June 17 and 28 meetings.

  • Approved HRFC pre development loan for Esperanza Commons of up to $1 million. 

  • Approved architectural contract to Phillips Win Architecture for Esperanza Commons totaling $460,700. 

  • Approved contract renewal for AT&T internet and telephone services for an amount not to exceed $340,000.

    • Eric Payne of the Central Valley Urban Institute said that he had concerns about, “digital redlining,” and said they had spoken with the vendor and were taking a neutral position at this time. 

  • Approved HCD rehabilitation grant award of $1.4 million from the Office of Migrant Services for the Parlier Migrant Center, a 131-unit seasonal housing complex for migrant farmworker families. 

  • Approved award of HVAC and water heater replacement contract to STW Contractors for a total of $662,400 to perform work at Wedgewood Commons.

Discussion items

  • Policy Analyst Lyric Aguigam provided a review of the proposed changes to the 2022 annual plans, timeline and process.

    • The document will be posted for public comment on Friday. 

      • 45-day public comment period, closes on Sept. 12

      • August 17 Resident Advisory Board meeting

      • Aug. 24 board meeting-commissioners will be updated on public comments

      • Sept. 28 public hearing

      • Oct. 15 final submission to HUD

    • Submitted 2021 annual plan at the beginning of this year due to the pandemic. 

    • Significant changes are noted in yellow in the packet. Required changes due to HUD regulations are in green. Blue highlights are staff recommendations.

    • The agency plan informs HUD and the public of policies, operations, funding, asset management and program activities. It is made up of:

      • Five-year plan

      • Annual plan

      • Administrative plan

      • Admissions & Continued Occupancy Plan (ACOP)

    • Juan Lopez, senior manager in asset management department, presented information on the Public Housing Homeownership Opportunities Program. 

      • In order to align with HUD requirements, the programs will be updated as follows:

        • Families must be at or below 80% area median income (AMI) based on family size

        • Families must agree to participate in homeownership-counseling programs and receive evidence of completion.

        • Families will have to qualify for a first mortgage with a private lender. Their housing costs can’t exceed 35% of income.

        • At least 1% of the purchase price of the unit must come from the resident’s own funds.

      • Jones asked how many were participating in the program and Juan said there were seven total in Fresno County.

      • Discretionary features of the program include:

        • Families being at or above 60% AMI

        • Existing public housing residents

        • Fresno Housing will provide down payment assistance via a soft second mortgage for up to 20% of the sales price

      • Catalano asked where the homes come from for the program. Lopez said they own them outright with no mortgages and are earmarked for sale via the homeownership program. They were purchased in the 80s and 90s. 

      • Catalano also asked how they could expand the portfolio for homeownership since they only have five more available in Sanger. Lopez said that public housing is going by the wayside and will be replaced by RAD. The new program would fall under a different umbrella, but down payment assistance and homeownership counseling would continue to be available. 

      • Nguyen said the program is now being wrapped up. “We do have an appetite for growing our homeownership program with the funds that HUD has today,” she said. “I think that you can look forward to us coming to you with some ideas on how we can grow homeownership.” 

      • Williams asked if the program was for all existing housing residents or only for voucher holders. Nguyen said it is for public housing residents, specifically before voucher program residents. 

      • Kelley asked how residents are selected since they are in such short supply. Lopez said it would be a lottery system.

        • She said that she would like to ensure that they are truly providing an equitable system and not just allowing those who’ve lived in the houses longest to purchase them by default. 

        • “I’m wondering if we expand our conversation to include Habitat for Humanity,” Kelley said.

        • Jones said she agrees and they will have more conversations about equity going forward. 

      • Duarte said previously it was a lease to purchase program. 

    • Christine Muro presented information on the Administrative Plan. 

      • Significant changes include temporary hardship requests, rent adjustment/increase limitations, repayment agreement for families

    • Hilda Reeves, assistant manager of property management, presented information on ACOP

      • Jones asked what they can do to minimize the cost of credit checks for residents. Reeves said they don’t charge at all, but that is a question geared toward Section 8. 

      • Nguyen said that they have landlords that don’t do credit checks at all, so it all depends on what the individual landlord requirements are. 

    • Payne asked the commissioners to ensure that documents are available in multiple languages for residents. He said materials have been presented to the public in English only and the Spanish-speaking residents in attendance had an issue with them. 

  • Duarte provided an overview of real estate development activities: 

    • Linnaea Villas in Kingsburg are 97% complete

    • Alere Commons are 42% complete

    • The Villages at Paragon in Fresno are 92% complete

    • The Villages at Broadway are 86% complete

      • Duarte said they will be ready in early to mid-September

    • The Monarch at Chinatown are 33% complete (Four-story building)

      • Construction timelines have been slower than usual, but Duarte said he is pleased with the progress. 

    • Catalano asked how they are doing on budget. Duarte said they did see some price escalations due to lumbar and materials, but they were able to lock in prices before they reached the top. 

      • Catalano asked where the overages would come from and Duarte said the contingencies include those fluctuations.

The public portion of the meeting adjourned at 6:06 p.m. The commission then moved into a closed session to discuss filling the CEO position. 

The commission reconvened for open session at  6:25 p.m. 

The commissions had no actions to report back from the closed session.   

Catalano then provided an update on the CEO search process:

  •  He said Fresno Housing continues to work with Ganz & Associates to understand the ideal candidate and develop a brochure. 

  • They have distributed position descriptions for advertisements and done direct outreach to candidates through Ganz & Associates.

  • Ad hoc committee includes four outside community members

  • Have a total of nine candidates that will begin interviewing with the committee via Zoom the first week in August. 

  • The committees will narrow down the candidates to two to three to meet with the commissioners and members of the public.

  • After the boards and public have met with the candidates, the board will take action in September or October. 

  • “It’s going to be a real transparent process so I ask that all of you remain patient,” Catalano said. 

  • Payne thanked the commissioners for the update and asked how many public forums would be available and whether they would be in-person or virtual.

    • Catalano said they have one location and it will be in-person and they have not discussed having a virtual option, but they will look into it.

    • Payne also asked how the committee members were appointed. Catalano said it was the, “prerogative of the chairs.”  

From there, the meeting was open for commissioners’ reports:

  • Jones provided an update on the resident empowerment ad hoc committee. She said they had a good meeting with an elementary school and are working to put together a pilot program to help the children with their success and test scores. 

  • Jones said there is also a new infrastructure bill that the president just passed so there will be several letters that they will ask for them to pay attention to. 

  • Kelley said her concern with moving forward with the AT&T contract is that she would have appreciated reviewing it earlier because it is important to align, “their dollars with their values.” 

    • “Over $300,000 is a significant commitment and we want to make sure…that what they do in the community aligns with our values,” Kelley said.

    • She would like to see AT&T do more to address the, “connectivity gap.” “I am an advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion,” she said. 

    • “Digital redlining is a huge option for us..and this is how we operationalize equity by asking these questions,” Kelley said. 

      • Jones said that perhaps the contracts should come to them 60 to 90 days prior to expiration so they have time to fully review the options. 

      • Nguyen said it did initiate a conversation with AT&T and in the future they can make sure the plans include Fresno Housing and residents.

  • Catalano said they had a great development ad hoc meeting. He said they are digging into budgets that will give them a better understanding. 

    • He said thank you to everyone who came to the Solivita Commons, especially Williams who he said, “always keeps it real.” 

  • Gallaher said that Williams should be their spokesperson and that she was, “just fabulous.” 

Nguyen then updated the commissioners:

  • She said Aug. 24 there will be a real estate development workshop one hour prior to the regularly scheduled board meeting. 

  • October 15 they are scheduled for a board retreat, which she said will be in person unless state mandates otherwise. 

  • She said the October board meeting will also be in person. 

  • They continue to have vaccine pop-up clinics at several properties throughout the county. 

  • She said a resident empowerment highlights newsletter went out today with details on the vaccine clinics, in addition to recent social media posts.

  • She said they had so much interest for a class with Bitwise and CMAC that they had a waitlist. 

  • They were planning an event for National Night Out, but decided to scale it back a few weeks ago due to COVID. She said they will do a, “very light touch event,” which will include a quick, pick up of prepackaged items.

  • They promoted a property specialist that works at the Parlier Migrant Center and hired an intern for the summer. 

Kelley commented on a camp with Bitwise and CMAC that is continuing to teach residents robotics and technology, which she managed when she worked for Fresno Housing. Nguyen said there was so much interest that they had a wait list. Jones suggested expanding it to a spring, winter and fall program as well. 

The meeting adjourned at 6:55 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 24. 

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