Fresno's rental housing inspection plan delayed

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Whether there has been a delay or not depends on who you ask. Housing advocates thought city officials made it clear the inspections would start in September, the city says, it was more like no sooner than September, and say the program could be underway within a few months.

The big push to deal with Fresno's substandard housing crisis started in the wake of the problems at the Summerset Village Apartments nearly two years ago.

Last year Mayor Lee Brand pushed a plan to beef up code enforcement and get all of the rental units in the city inspected to make sure they are up to livable standards.

But housing advocate Andy Levine says it seems to be taking too long to get started.

"Inspections were supposed to start in September they are now saying I think February or march that's already behind schedule," said Levine.

The person in charge of the program, Kelly Furtado told the city council on Thursday it has taken awhile to get this new rental inspection department going.

"As you can imagine setting up a new division at city hall is not an easy opportunity," said Furtado.

Mayor Lee Brand is urging patience, saying the program is getting on track.

"The important thing is that we get it done right. This is the first time it's ever been done. We've got a database of 90 thousand plus people, we want to make sure we get everybody in this baseline inspection," said Brand.

One of the hitches has been developing a computer program to identify the owners of all 93 thousand rental units in the city. Brand vows once it is going, in January, February or March, it will work at cleaning up the city's substandard housing.

"I think the vast majority of landlords are good responsible landlords but those that aren't that fall through the cracks we are going to catch them," said Brand.

The city is in the process of hiring staff to do the rental inspections. The hope is to get it started with a test run in January, and fully implemented in February or March.
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