Crossroads Village will be converted into permanent affordable housing. The project will fill vacancies through the FCoC's Coordinated Entry System.
A new affordable housing project in central Fresno will soon be available to help house some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.
Crossroads Village, at 3737 N Blackstone Ave., will be converted into permanent affordable housing, according to a news release by developers RH Community Builders and UPholdings. Crossroads Village used to be the Smugglers Inn before being converted into rapid rehousing for Fresno’s homeless community in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Crossroads Village was acquired by UPholdings in 2020, and it was their first central San Joaquin Valley acquisition. Though the group was founded in Chicago, they have multiple properties in California, all located in the Central Valley. UPholdings’ co-founder and Principal Jessica Hoff Berzac explained the reasoning behind the developer’s interest in this section of the state.
“It’s where I was born and raised,” Berzac said. “I just put my boundaries on the valley because it’s where I’m from. It’s the housing crisis I see every day. I mean, you can’t drive down the street of your own hometown and see people sleeping on the streets and not do anything about it if it’s your work.”
Though no new construction needs to be built for the affordable housing project, Crossroads Village will need to go through renovations to turn its 200 single-use rooms into 143 studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units.
The units will be available to Fresnans who make 30% or less of the area’s median income, according to the project’s news release. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that Fresno’s Median Family Income for 2023 is $79,400.
The California Housing Project releases an annual Affordable Housing Needs Report for all counties in the state. Their 2023 Affordable Housing Needs Report for Fresno County found that renters “need to earn $25.23 per hour – 1.6 times the state minimum wage – to afford the average monthly asking rent of $1,312.”
They also found that “36,199 low-income renter households in Fresno County do not have access to an affordable home.”
Crossroads Village initially received $15.3 million in Project Homekey funds in 2020 to convert the space into emergency rapid rehousing for Californians experiencing homelessness who were at high risk of serious illness or impacted by COVID-19,” according to the project’s news release.
Since 2020, the project received nearly $60 million in funding through local programs including the California Housing Accelerator, No Place Like Home, Housing For A Healthy California, and Fresno County.
Crossroads Village will also provide wraparound support services to its tenants through the Fresno County Department Of Behavioral Health. Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig stressed the importance of Crossroads Village providing these services to its residents.
“The County of Fresno continues to prioritize investing in affordable housing through such partnerships as the one with UPholdings and RH Community Builders,” Magsig said in the news release. “But more importantly, our Department of Behavioral Health will provide the wraparound supportive services integral to the longer-term needs of individuals and families who will be living in these permanent units.”
When the affordable housing project opens, it will lease apartments through a referral process managed by the Fresno Madera Continuum Of Care. The FMCoC will select tenants for referral through the Coordinated Entry System in an effort to best allocate the appropriate amount of resources for any given person and the situation they are experiencing.
Coordinated Entry is a federal process mandated by HUD.
Crossroads Village will also “specifically set aside for persons with serious mental illness who are chronically homeless, homeless, or at-risk of being chronically homeless,” as mandated by their No Place Like Home funding. The number of units set aside will be approximately 30%, according to Berzac.
Katie Wilbur is the executive director of RH Community Builders, as well as a member at large for the FMCoC. Wilbur helped explain the process of getting into coordinated entry in Fresno.
“Individuals who are experiencing homelessness and are seeking housing can go to any of the “community access sites,” which are listed on the Fresno Madera Continuing Care website, and request “navigation services” so that they can work with a navigator to find the appropriate housing, which typically includes utilizing the Coordinated Entry System,” Wilbur said.
“Individuals who are already residing in low-barrier shelters in the community are already working with navigators and would already be a part of the Coordinated Entry System,” Wilbur said.
Berzac also helped illustrate why the coordinated entry system’s referral process is selective, as opposed to application-based. She acknowledged the general confusion and frustration some may have in the process.
“Some people experiencing homelessness, maybe just need help catching up on rent, and they can actually stay in their [current] unit,” Wilbur said. “Through a coordinated approach, considering the unbelievable amount of people who need help, we attempt to have some equity in the process and not let someone in that maybe doesn’t need it quite as much as someone else.”
“I never want to give false hope,” Berzac said. “I mean, it’s never a perfect process. Don’t get me wrong, and everyone’s needs are through the roof. But the goal, as is mandated, is that we have a coordinated system for getting people into housing like this.”
Crossroads Village’s renovations are expected to be completed by next summer, according to the UPholdings’ website. They are expecting to start the leasing process in late 2024 or early 2025.
WHAT IS COORDINATED ENTRY?
Coordinated Entry is a process mandated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development that is intended to make sure that housing resources are appropriately allocated to people experiencing a housing crisis. The resources are allocated based on a person’s needs. Coordinated Entry also connects a community’s housing services and resources to streamline the allocation process.
The Coordinated Entry System mandate typically comes tied to program funds received by a developer for a housing project.
HUD introduced the Coordinated Entry System as a response to established practices conducted by local Continuums of Care that they felt underserved their community’s housing needs.
“…some program participants received assistance that was more extensive than they needed, some participants received less assistance than they needed, and many people, often those with the highest needs, received no assistance at all because they were screened out by exclusionary admission criteria or preferences set by the projects,” reads the HUD’s Coordinated Entry Core Elements.
A community’s Coordinated Entry System is run by its local continuum of care — the local CoC being the Fresno Madera Continuum of Care. Residents looking to join the FMCoC’s Coordinated Entry System can do so by visiting one of their Access Sites.
“Individuals who are experiencing homelessness and are seeking housing can go to any of the access sites…and request “navigation services” so that they can work with a navigator to find appropriate housing, which typically includes utilizing the Coordinated Entry System,” said Katie Wilbur, a Fresno Madera Continuum of Care Member At Large.
“Individuals who are already residing in low barrier shelters in the community are already working with navigators and would already be a part of the Coordinated Entry System,” Wilbur said.
A list of FMCoC Access Points, along with information on how they handle Coordinated Entry, can be found on their website.