Here’s what you need to know:

  • At its first meeting of 2022, the Fresno Housing Joint Boards of Commissioners heard from several Homekey property residents and advocates who expressed concerns about the treatment of their children, Covid protocols, safety and overall access to services. Jody Ketcheside, Regional Director of Turning Point, which manages the properties responded to the comments. She said she was concerned by the residents’ comments and would be working to address them, as did the commissioners, CEO Williams and Fresno Housing staff.

  • The commissioners also received an update on the Homekey motel properties from Senior Manager Doreen Eley. She said that 535 adults have lived at Homekey sites and 262 have exited, but that 119 people (45%) have ended up back on the streets and just 51 (19%) have found permanent housing.

  • They also learned about digital inclusion and broadband expansion for Fresno Housing residents, including a coalition and partnership with Fresno Unified. The district will be expanding its fiber wide area network, which will provide faster speeds for 24 communities south of Belmont Ave. and the contractor has agreed to pull the fiber further to cover several Fresno Housing communities as well, saving the agency 50-60% in construction costs.

The meeting (in full)

The Scene

The Fresno Housing Authority joint meeting of the boards of commissioners took place on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. The joint board meeting packet states that due to executive order N-25-20, the meeting will be held via Zoom for commissioners and accessible via teleconference and Zoom for all members of the public. Meeting recordings are not 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)
Stacy Vaillancourt, Vice Chair (also Chief Administrative Officer for Saint Agnes Medical Center)

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

Sabrina Kelley, Commissioner (Vice President of External Relations for Community Vision)

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 running for Fresno City Council District 1)

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, Board Secretary Tiffany Mangum, ensured there was a quorum.

Commissioner Jones led the meeting. She thanked Commissioner Christensen for his partnership and work in the schools. “I have personally learned quite a bit from you so I just wanted to thank you for your leadership,” he said.

Christensen said he had Covid and was present by audio only.

Commissioners Catalano, Jones, Gallaher, Yanez, Williams, Sablan, Henry and Ramos initially had their videos on. Christensen and Vaillancourt were present by phone only. Commissioners Ortiz and Kelley were absent.

Additionally, the following staff members were present via video: Mangum, CEO Tyrone Williams, Chief Real Estate Officer Michael Duarte, Chief Diversity Officer Marc’ Bady, Attorney Kenneth Price and Chief Business Officer Emily De La Guerra.

The commissioners opened the meeting by approving adoption of a resolution pursuant to AB 361, which will continue to allow the commissioners to participate via teleconference. Price said it was very critical that the item be adopted now, otherwise the board would not be able to take any action during the meeting.

The meeting was then open for public comments:

  • Alma called into the meeting and said she used to be a resident of Step Up on 99. She said they are now permanently housed using Section 8.

    • Price said that they are discussing a specific item at the time, but they would be opening the meeting for public comments later in the meeting.

  • Eric Payne of the Central Valley Urban Institute shared an affirmation of appreciation to Williams and Jones for protecting the agency and staff during the pandemic. “I just wanted to share an appreciation for making the meeting so accessible during this time,” he said.

After approving the agenda, the meeting was reopened for general public comments:

  • Alma shared her experience living at Step Up on 99. She said her family did receive housing through Section 8 program. She said her 13-year-old with mental health problems was asked to leave the property and she left and had a mental breakdown.

    • “I think there should be training for them, she was called a terrible child, a hardship, a problem child,” she said. “There should have been taken into consideration maybe family counseling or therapy rather than just saying your family needs to go.”

    • She said her family did become homeless after Step Up on 99 initially and paid $480 per week for shelter.

    • She said her coworker was also there and wanted to speak.

    • Mangum asked her to reach out to Fresno Housing staff so they can connect and discuss the situation further.

  • Homeless Advocate Dez Martinez said she is getting a lot of complaints from residents of shelters.

    • She requested the security camera footage from Days Inn because the security guard was told to kick in the door of someone that was having a breakdown.

    • “Right now at the Valley Inn, they are doing quarantine without testing,” she said. “If you cough or sneeze, you’re getting 10 days.”

      • She said they are testing with home tests and residents are not getting to see the test results.

    • Martinez said residents are asking for Wi-Fi and health services at the facilities.

    • She said the residents want to speak up and would like to speak to them.

  • Theresa Tovar said she lived on Step Up on 99 and has now been moved to Turning Point. She said she didn’t like how her kids were treated.

    • She said there was an incident with an adult that had drugs and her daughter got written up because they found the man’s bag.

  • Richard Burrell said he was grateful to see so many familiar faces on the call. He said he appreciates hearing Dez speak. He said he often hears from grandmothers or mothers that their 12 or 13-year-old daughter needs to leave the premises or their entire families will have to leave the property. He said it has happened several times since June.

    • He said a mom was crying in the parking lot holding her four-year-old. He said that she was distraught about how her daughter was being treated.

    • “It is not an environment that is healthy for children,” “It is extremely dirty, it is extremely loud.” “The atmosphere feels like some type of prison experience, it’s very much an us versus them experience,” he said.

    • He said that he has seen Turning Point staff greet him in an aggressive manner when he is just there to help children get food or get to the afterschool program.

    • “I’m asking you commissioners to bring some type of peace, some measure of help to these families who are already stuck in a really, really challenging place who now feel scared if they speak up or speak out about everything that’s going on,” he said.

  • Jennifer Fenton said that Dez Martinez was referring to her. She was living at Valley Inn and quarantined.

    • She said they didn’t take her temperature or check on her and only brought her dinner.

    • She said they are now bringing breakfast and dinner. They ask at dinner if they need toilet paper or anything.

    • She said tomorrow will be her tenth day of quarantine.

    • She said they told her that she will be exited if she comes out of her room, which she said was difficult due to her two pets.

    • She said the staff needs training and social workers and mental health services.

  • Domanique Kitchener said they need better security guards because her dad and friend got pepper sprayed while they were driving. She said that she has been threatened and some of the residents have been threatened physically.

    • She said that she is trying to get her brother and his girlfriend approved to live with her, but they have not allowed it.

Mangum provided a phone number for the residents to contact them directly  at 559-385-8433 and said that those wishing to receive updates and meeting agendas can email executiveoffice@fresnohousing.org.

Catalano said that Valley Inn is not a Fresno Housing asset, but Step Up on 99 is.

Jones said she is not happy with what she heard and needed time to process it.

In response to the public comments, the presentation on Homekey properties was moved up and Doreen Eley is presenting:

  • There are 50 residents of Step Up on 99 that are under 5 years old.

  • Jody Ketcheside, Regional Director of Turning Point, was on the Zoom call. She said she was concerned by the residents comments and has already set up a meeting with staff for tomorrow morning.

    • She said some of the examples that were given she is very familiar with and out of respect for confidentiality.

    • “We do work tirelessly with people before we ask them to leave, we do not take it lightly,” she said. “Any time there is an exit, especially with the family program, they are approved by me.”

    • She said they have rented U-Hauls and helped with moving costs to minimize the trauma of the kids from “bouncing around.”

    • She said that the curb appeal has been a challenge. She said that when kids get out of school, there is trash everywhere.

    • She said they do have an incentive program for gift certificates in exchange for residents’ help around the property.

    • “I’m bothered by everything we heard tonight just as you are,” she said.

  • Eley said that she talks to Ketcheside frequently and out of respect for confidentiality, she is going to respectfully have a different view of the situations.

  • Jones asked if there were case managers for the families.

    • Ketcheside said there are and families are asked to meet with them once per week, but if the families don’t want to then their hands are tied.

    • Jones reminded members of the public that they should not restate things that have already been said.

  • Ramos asked Ketcheside what their protocol is for clients that do test positive for Covide.

    • She said that if someone reports symptoms then they do ask them to isolate.

    • They usually don’t use over the counter tests, but since they couldn’t get those specific residents out for a test, they used an “at-home test.”

    • She said they do bring meals to residents.

    • At Valley Inn, they only serve breakfast and dinner. “None of the shelters serve three meals per day,” she said.

    • She said their rooms have refrigerators and microwaves so they can stock their own food.

    • She said a lot of people weren’t eating breakfast so at some, they are only serving one meal because “we were throwing away a lot of food.”

    • Ramos went on to ask her about walking her dog outside while masked.

    • Ketcheside said that she should’ve been given an N95 mask and allowed to walk her dog.

    • She said the program just opened in September and the program director is “probably in need of some additional training, she is very new.”

  • Williams said that the woman had a right to see her test results.

    • Ketcheside agreed that she should have administered her test herself.

    • Price asked them to not discuss specific people’s health conditions due to privacy concerns.

  • Catalano asked out of the residents brought into the motels, what percentage were moved out.

    • Eley said they moved out 262 people.

    • “As we look at the state of affordable housing in Fresno, that becomes an issue for residents to move out and the rise and fall of Covid, that also became an issue,” she said.

    • She said most residents are looking for a one bedroom and that’s what they don’t have.

    • Ketcheside said that it’s a problem throughout the continuum of care finding units.

    • Catalano said if they need to have a conversation about the motels becoming permanent housing.

    • Duarte said they are continuing their efforts to get funding and convert units to permanent housing.

  • Yanez asked if they have case managers to talk to on site.

    • Ketcheside the family program has three program managers on site.

  • Kitchener said she lives at Valley Inn and that it was upsetting to hear that “we’re not an asset.”

    • She said that she has been trying to get her brother housed in her room for nine months.

Williams commented on their support for transitional housing:

  • “We realize that this is an incredibly challenging and heavy lift for all of those involved,” he said. “Having four next to each other is maybe unprecedented.”

  • “Our expectation for our residents and Homekey project is the exact same level of service for all of our residents and that is that they be treated with dignity and respect and that there are rules and guidelines like there must be of any project of this magnitude.”

  • He said that he and the staff will revisit how their projects are managed and how staff is properly trained at addressing issues that arise.

  • “We are committed to following up and ensuring that measures are taken at reducing the issues that we heard of tonight.”

Williams provided a CEO report for the commissioners:

  • He said they are planning an in-person board retreat that will incorporate necessary precautions.

  • Williams said the city will be working to present a plan for them in April for additional housing options. “I’m hopeful that will end in housing production and not just housing discussion.”

  • He said “covid has come to Fresno Housing” and that it is “unprecedented in the challenges we are facing.” He said that 20% of the staff of the agency has either confirmed contracted covid or is being quarantined due to concerns.

  • He said they are looking at realignment. “We have had some significant executive departures but we have a strong second line and we have been able to continue the work of the agency despite some absences at the executive level.”

    • He said that he is looking at the organizational structure now and how they can be positioned best for the future.

    • “I’m not just looking at an opportunity to replace people who are no longer here,” he said. “The first order of business is to set the stage for where we are going.”

    • They are working with Human Capital, Inc. as they examine the current structure and work to create a different staff alignment for the future.

  • He said they are in audit season.

  • He said they are continuing discussions about resident safety. He said they have reached out to the Central Valley Health Policy Institute to identify next steps.

  • He said there is a grant opportunity that would provide $300-$350,000 to support evidence based community health improvement. He said they are focused on the CAN project area to maximize their efforts there.

  • He commented on January being slavery and human trafficking awareness month, as well as cervical cancer awareness month and they are hosting a virtual presentation about cancer prevention.

  • He said they have reached their goal of having 10,000 followers on facebook so they can connect with residents and the community.

  • Williams said an officer had started greeting residents and sharing pies with them from Amazon. He said it was a new program called, “Police and Pie.”

  • Williams shared five new hires, a promotion and two employee transfers.

    • Crystal Cox has been promoted to Finance Manager.

  • Assistant Director Kelli Furtado will be leaving Fresno Housing and become Chief of Staff for the mayor.

Jones opened the meeting for reports from the commissioners:

  • Jones asked the commissioners to look at what’s happening with NAHRO and what is happening nationally.

  • Williams said that since they have lost some staff members, she thought that providing “internships” for residents and providing training for them in clerical, maintenance or landscaping. She said they could help them with rent or a voucher of some kind.

    • “I’m looking around and I know there’s people that have experience that we can tap into,” she said.

    • Bady said that DEI interns will be starting this summer.

Consent items:

  • Approved minutes of the Dec. 14, 2021 meeting.

    • Price asked the minutes be removed because they weren’t included in the agenda.

  • Approved contract award for Sun Lodge architectural services in the amount of $340,000 with R.L. Davidson, Inc.

  • Approved contract for Sun Lodge general contractor/construction management services in the amount of $21,000 with Zumwalt Construction, Inc.

  • Approved contract for Avalon Commons general contractor/construction management services in the amount of $20,000 for pre-construction consultancy services from Brown Construction.

  • Approved contract for La Joya Commons general contractor/construction management services in the amount of $125,000 to Johnston Contracting, Inc.

  • Approved contract for Citrus Gardens general contractor/construction management services in the amount of $15,000 with Zumwalt Construction.

  • Approved the acceptance and acknowledgement of the verified 2019 Section Eight Management Assessment Program (SEMAP) score for 2021.

    • HUD verified Fresno Housing’s SEMAP score for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2019 to be 99% with an overall designation of “high.”

  • Approved 2022 salary schedule.

Discussion items:

  • Bobby Coulter provided an overview of efforts to increase digital inclusion and broadband access for Fresno Housing residents:

    • He said they have connected 1,900 households to free or reduced internet.

      • “We’re proud of this goal but our real goal is to connect all 17,000 households to affordable high speed internet,” he said.

      • He said they are working on the Homekey properties also, but some have unique geography challenges.

    • He said distance to the closest service provider is a huge challenge.

    • Current efforts include 2022-2023 pipeline includes four new resident internet installations, shovel ready list, prepare agency for upcoming state and federal funding.

      • He said right now they are limited to two to four installations per year, due to staffing.

    • “Closing the digital divide will take strong partnerships and there are few stronger than our partnership with Fresno Unified,” he said.

      • He said he is grateful for Phil Neufeld of Fresno Unified.

      • He said that broadband maps significantly underrepresent the served and underserved populations in Fresno.

      • He said that at least 10,000 residents are underserved.

      • Fresno Unified that will be expanding its fiber wide area network, which will provide faster speeds for 24 communities south of Belmont Ave.

      • Coulter said that Fresno Unified’s network expansion will save them 50-60% of initial costs and bring Internet to older sites that would take much longer for them to develop.

      • Catalano thanked Neufeld and said he reached out to them at the perfect time regarding a fiber project.

      • Neufeld said that Fresno Unified’s fiber expansion will reach many Fresno Housing residents because the contractor, CVIN, LLC,  has agreed to pull the fiber further to cover them at their own expense.

      • Coulter said that the contractor pulling the fiber further, will save them 50-60% off from what the construction costs would have been and bring connections to older sites that would’ve taken longer without the partnership.

  • Kenneth Price provided an update on legislative changes affecting public agencies:

    • AB 361 Brown Act teleconferencing requirements.

    • Behested payments reporting-when officials raise money for nonprofit agencies.

      • Price said that if they have asked for donations from any individuals or organizations that do business with Fresno Housing it could be a conflict.

    • 2021 amendments

    • Updates to CEQA

  • Finance Manager Crystal Cox and Renae Machado provided an overview of the 2022 budgets for limited partnerships and other entities:

    • Fresno Housing has sponsored 36 affordable housing projects that will be operational in 2022.

    • Cox shared waterfall projects showing an excess of $1.25 million, of which Fresno Housing will receive $500,000.

    • De La Guerra thanked Cox, as did Jones for preparing the budget.

  • Chief Real Estate Officer Michael Duarte provided a real estate development update:

    • He said Esperanza Commons closed in Dec. and construction is beginning.

    • He said February will be busy and several items will be on the agenda next month.

    • They are tracking four different funding sources with March 1 deadlines.

Action items: 

  • Approved contract amendments for Williams’ CEO contract:

    • The amendment changes his sick leave accrual from 10.5 days of sick leave per year to 3.69 hours of sick leave per pay period in accordance with Fresno Housing’s time away from work policy.

    • Relocation assistance is changed to gross-up the reimbursement to pay for the employee’s portion of payroll taxes so the employee can be fully reimbursed for relocation expenses up to $20,000+.

      • Prior agreement did not recognize that such benefit would be taxable and therefore did not reimburse the CEO for actual expenses.

The commissioners moved into closed session at 7:45 p.m. for real property negotiations with Roombus, Inc. Catalano said they don’t anticipate taking action tonight, but they will come back to report out.

The next regular meeting is scheduled for Feb. 22.

If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at Documenters-admin@thefresnoland.com with “Correction Request” in the subject line.

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