For the first time since 2019, the interest list for the Housing Choice Voucher program will open soon, plus infill infrastructure funding could be coming to downtown, and Fresno Housing approves sale of historic Helm Home.

April 25, 2023 — Fresno Housing Boards of Commissioners

Documented by Josef Sibala

What happened: For the first time since 2019, the interest list for the Housing Choice Voucher program will open soon and become an annual event, according to a presentation given by Chief of Housing Voucher Programs and Initiatives Brandy Woodard at Tuesday’s Fresno Housing Joint Boards of Commissioners meeting.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program, formerly known as Section 8, is a federally funded program that provides rental assistance through vouchers, to eligible low-income individuals and families in Fresno County. Eligible applicants who receive a voucher are responsible for finding an apartment or house in the private rental market and pay a portion of the rent based on their income.

Woodard said the program has faced several challenges, including a budget deficit of $1.6 million, low 36% lease-up rate, late re-certifications and late inspections.

She said they will work to increase housing opportunities through increased small area fair market rents, which are calculated for individual ZIP codes within urban areas as opposed to one calculation for the entire city.

According to her presentation, Fresno Housing will randomly draw pre-applications from the interest list using a lottery system in order of preferences. Those applicants are then placed on a waiting list and contacted to complete a full application.

More information on the program is available here.

And also: According to a board memo included in the agenda packet, the city of Fresno is the “lead applicant” for up to $45 million through the state of California’s Infill Infrastructure Grant Catalyst program, and the commissioners voted to approve Fresno Housing’s inclusion in the application as a potential developer.

The overall goal of the application is to accelerate downtown housing and eligible uses, include demolition, infrastructure and structured parking. Various downtown and Chinatown properties are being considered for housing and mixed-use development, according to the agenda.

Lastly: After a closed session discussion, the board approved the sale of the Helm Home at 1749 L St. to VAM Holdings, LLC. A total of eight offers were received on the historic home.

Up next: The Fresno Housing Joint Boards of Commissioners will reconvene on May 23.

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