Growing frustration over City of Fresno's inability to come up with plan to deal with sub-standard housing

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There are hang ups over how many units will be inspected, and who will pay for the inspections. (KFSN)

It's been almost a year since the city of Fresno pledged to get tough on the cities sub-standard housing problem. But there are hang ups over how many units will be inspected, and who will pay for the inspections.

"It would need to be cost neutral, which means the property owners would be paying the costs of the inspection and obviously we want to do this very efficiently. So the costs are as low as possible but the city would not be willing to share the cost of the program," said Ashley Swearengin, Fresno Mayor.

The call for inspections came after hundreds of code violations were discovered at the Summerset Apartments last year where residents were without heat for weeks.

City officials acknowledge there are many more substandard housing units in the city.

City Council Member Lee Brand is a property manager and owns rental properties. He said the Mayors call for mandatory inspections of rental units is not something the local apartment association wants.

"I think the Mayor started with 100-percent inspections, I believe she's down to 20-percent. So, one in five, every five years you would go through a cycle, the association so far is zero inspections," said Brand. "I'm going to see what I can do to bridge the gap and find a solution and yet I can't give any guarantees."

But Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea, a former city council member who is challenging Brand for Mayor, believes there has been too much talk and vowed to take action if elected.

"What we need to do is double our code enforcement department and immediately apply the rules to the slumlords we know are out there."

Housing advocates on the task force are frustrated by the delays. Lety Valencia of Faith in Communities believes the only way to get started is to have rental properties registered and inspected.

"In addressing Fresno's housing crisis. Every city that has successfully addressed their housing crisis has included a baseline inspection program."

Consultants have told the city the costs for initial inspections and registration could be about $150.

Swearengin hoped to have a rental inspection program in place before she leaves office at the end of the year, but it's not clear if that will happen.
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