Here’s what you need to know:
- The Fresno Housing Authority Joint Boards of Commissioners met on August 23, 2022 to discuss matters ranging from developing land and updating their Annual Public Housing Agency Plans. But due to a considerable number of members being absent, the board agreed to postpone nearly all items on the agenda for a future meeting.
- The board did, however, remain to hear any public comment pertaining to matters off of the agenda, as well as on the 2023 Public Housing Agency Plans.
- Public comments were made raising concerns with the availability of housing vouchers, displacement of people residing in closing shelters, especially the “family shelter”, and inadequate staffing resources at existing shelters.
- Given the deep anxieties of those experiencing housing insecurity navigating a precarious housing assistance environment, will the board make efforts to incorporate the public’s wishes and agency into future plans, like those proposed in the 2023 PHA?
- When will the Family Shelter close and will those people be able to find shelter elsewhere?
The meeting began at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 22, 2022 at their location of 1260 Fulton Street (2nd Floor), Fresno, CA, 93721, as well as via video and audio conferencing (details here).
Roll call was taken; and the Board determined not enough members were present to continue the meeting per standard protocol. The board did agree, however, to carry on with the public comment sections of the meeting.
The agenda was not approved for today; the board intends to go on with the current agenda during the next meeting on September 27.
According to their website, The Fresno Housing Authority is comprised of 14 commissioners divided amongst the City Board (5/7 are chosen by the Mayor of the City of Fresno; and 2/7 are residents receiving housing assistance + are elected by fellow constituents) and the County Board (5/7 elected by the Fresno County Board of Supervisors; and 2/7 are, similarly, fellow residents).
Fresno Housing Leadership Team
Tyrone Roderick Williams (CEO)
3. Public Comment and Presentations (4)
- Dez Martinez with We Are Not Invisible spoke about their concerns with increasing housing insecurity under systemic issues left unaddressed (i.e. voucher scarcity; closure of existing public housing like the Family Shelter; new landlords not accepting working vouchers).
- As an advocate, Martinez spoke on the need to hear and alleviate the real “anxieties” felt by those most affected by these shortcomings.
- “Why are 22 rooms vacant at the shelter (when) people are sleeping in streets?!”, she said. “What security is being put into place (for those using) these vouchers?”
- For those who are able to obtain help from the City, Martinez said that conditions are still by no means secure.
- She said that of high priority for the Housing Authority, in her eyes, is the need to increase security at shelters. “(Shelter staff are) not checking bags or cars; security is compromised, children are not safe,” she said.
- Martinez requested that the board take action on extending these vouchers to alleviate the insecurity posed by public housing being assumed by new landlords and that the Housing Authority offer an “exact date” for the closure of the Family Shelter.
- Sean Martinez spoke on many of the same concerns, from the perspective of living in these shelters with their children.
- She emphasized concerns of inadequate resources/staff training there.
- “My only barrier is addiction”, she offered, “but I (cannot get) regular communication with a case manager. How do they expect us to find housing when they’re not holding up their end of the deal?”
- For Martinez, the compromised security, both in the shelters and outside of them, is an issue she said the board must consider soon.
- Speaking to the uncertainty of families currently residing in the Family Shelter, in particular, she offered: “I don’t really want to believe they’ll put these children on the streets with nowhere else to go”.
- With such little information surrounding the shelter’s closure date, however, she affirmed the concern that this may just be a reality.
- Martinez requested that the board provide more training to administrative and security staff at existing shelters; as well as make more transparent plans relating to the shelters for current residents.
- Brandy (last name unknown) spoke on their concerns for the housing shelters, aiming to support the concerns of Sean Martinez and for the board to take a more needs-based approach to growing housing insecurity.
- To this, Brandy requested that the board more immediately prioritize the safety, communication with, and resources available to those residing in the shelters.
- Cindy Piombino, a representative for Christ’s Helping Hands Ministry, spoke on their concerns for the security of the housing shelters.
- Recalling their experiences in advocacy work with families residing in the shelters in the past, Piombino affirms that they have “seen the lack of security themselves”.
- Piombino urged the board to intervene and bolster the training of security as soon as possible.
4. Public Hearing on 2023 Public Housing Agency Plans (Annual Plan, Admissions and Continued Occupancy Plan, Administrative Plan)
Per the Housing Authority’s meeting guidelines, this public hearing portion allows the public a chance to provide comments/feedback related to proposed plans. In this instance, the public has the chance to comment on the 2023 Public Housing Agency (PHA) Plans which, generally, aims to “provide a ready source.. to locate basic PHA policies, rules, and requirements concerning the PHA’s operations, programs, and services, including changes to these policies, and informs HUD, families served by the PHA, and members of the public of the PHA’s mission, goals and objectives for serving the needs of low- income, very low- income, and extremely low- income families”
*see relevant documents and more on the annual plan here*
- Brandy recommended revising the measure to provide more outreach to public accessibility.
- She said that converting text to “laymen’s terms” will help a public that is “not really aware” of how the program currently works; as well as bolster the needs of particularly needing community members, like the elderly older community members and “those who have lost contact with family members” as a result of experiencing housing insecurity.
8. Staff Presentations and Discussion Items Comments from Board Members:
- CEO of the Fresno Housing Leadership team, Tyrone Roderick Williams, spoke on new projects; invited the public to look out for information on a project that will have a “ground breaking” ceremony soon.
- Williams also called for an acknowledgement of the promotions of team members during the next meeting, where more members of the Housing Authority will be present, “to give them the recognition they deserve.”
- Williams, along with fellow FAH leaders Adrian Jones and Nikki Henry, recognized a member of the staff, Bobby (last name not disclosed), who helped sustain and strengthen technological communications through the pandemic. “The board wishes him the best of luck as he begins to pursue his “entrepreneurial” efforts”
The meeting was adjourned at 5:34 p.m. The meeting lasted approximately 30 minutes.
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