A new housing development in northwest Fresno is expected to help alleviate at least some of the stress felt by the city's youth amid the current housing crisis.
A new housing development in northwest Fresno could soon help alleviate some of the stress felt by the city’s youth amid the current housing crisis.
The City of Fresno and Valley Teen Ranch were awarded $21.9 million to construct a new affordable housing development for at-risk youth in northwest Fresno, city official said in a news release.
The housing development, known as the “Welcome Home Project,” will be located at 6507. N Polk. Ave., on the corner of the West Sierra Avenue intersection. The project will provide 96 permanent affordable single housing units to Fresno youth experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Fresno City Councilmember Mike Karbassi represents the area the development will be housed in. Karbassi said he appreciated the funding for this project, which he believes solves the city’s important problems.
“I’m proud to help deliver a critical solution to two key issues affecting our city on a daily basis,” said Karbassi in the news release last week. “Our city has consistently faced a housing crisis, and it is harder today for Fresno’s youth to get on their feet and build a better life without stable housing.”
The money comes from the third round of funding from Project Homekey — a state-run program that provides funds to cities “to sustain and rapidly expand housing for persons experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.”
Though most of the funds needed to complete the project will come from Homekey, additional funding will be provided by both Fresno and Valley Teen Ranch. Fresno’s contribution will be $2.8 million.
Phil Skei, the assistant director of Fresno Planning and Development, was part of the team in charge of acquiring funding for the project. The city and Valley Teen Ranch are tasked with providing affordable housing to Fresno’s youth and meeting the agreements set between the city and the state.
“We are working feverishly,” Skei said in an interview with Fresnoland. “We have less than 12 months now to finish construction. That’s probably the best that I can tell you … by this time next year, construction will be finished, and we will begin the process of leasing up the units.”
The development has received some early criticism from neighborhood residents. On Wednesday, a community meeting was held at William Saroyan Elementary School, where residents expressed multiple concerns, including the dangers presented by increased vehicle traffic to the neighboring school.
Karbassi was among those in attendance for Wednesday’s meeting and said during Thursday’s City Council meeting that he found the conversations to be constructive. To address those concerns, he promised to set up an ongoing discourse between community members, development planners, and Valley Teen Ranch.
“Next week, I’ll be meeting with professional staff and the developer, Valley Teen Ranch, on how we can implement these recommendations into the final plan. The conversation with the neighborhood is not over on this project,” Karbassi said.
The partnership between Valley Teen Ranch and Fresno comes after the city council rejected a prior affordable housing plan in that same area between Fresno and the ACTS foundation in April.
Valley Teen Ranch is a non-profit organization that assists at-risk boys. The group is Fresno-based and has a ranch in Madera where they operate a similar housing set-up to the one that will be constructed in northwest Fresno.
Valley Teen Ranch will oversee the development after it has finished construction and will have on-site management. They did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The city applied jointly with Valley Teen Ranch for the funds in May, according to the news release. Including this recent award, Project Homekey has provided Fresno with $63.1 in total funding.