Apartment complex for the homeless opens in Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

The Renaissance Apartments will provide not only housing, but guidance to help the homeless deal with various issues.

A computer room will also assist people as they try to get back into the working world,

The Renaissance at Santa Clara prominently stands out in an area where the homeless have long built shelters. Next week some of Fresno's homeless will begin to move into this aptly named complex.

Angie Nguyen said, "They finally have an opportunity to start anew and so it's the renaissance of their life. It's the renaissance of their transition from street to home."

Residents of these studio apartments will be selected through a vulnerability index registry. A city survey took note of people's health conditions, age and length of homelessness.

Nguyen said, "Their level of vulnerability can actually lead them to possibly die on the streets if they remain on the streets so they become then our priority."

The calming courtyard area will help develop a sense of community. The Fresno Housing Authority leveraged city, state and federal funds and then found a generous partner to build the $12 million project.

Tracewell Hanrahan said, "PNC Bank was able to contribute just over $7 million through the low income housing tax credit program."

Fresno's Homeless Services Manager Greg Barfield says a university of Pennsylvania study showed it costs 10-grand a year to house a homeless person but $23 thousand to do nothing.

Barfield explained, "That way, now a police car may be free, a fire truck may be free, an ambulance may be free, and the emergency room may be a bit freer."

Renters must pay 30-percent of any money they receive. But even if they have no income they're still eligible. Barfield spoke to a homeless woman set to move into the 69-unit complex.

Barfield said, "She was so excited to be moving from across the streets in the sheds at Poverello to this side of the street."

Applicants will go through mental health and criminal background checks. The Renaissance will also have case managers and crisis intervention specialists on site.

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