Fresno Housing Authority taking applications for rental assistance

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Low and fixed income residents are feeling the burden of the Valley's housing shortage and the rising cost of rent.

That could be seen at Fulton Street and Merced where Fresno Housing Authority opened their enrollment period for assistance.

"We in Fresno County have a high number of families that are paying more than 70 percent of their income towards rent," said the organization's CEO, Preston Prince.

Prince says the Housing Choice Voucher program, formerly known as Section 8, allows families to have a choice in where they live in the community, with rental assistance.

"There's a need for 40,000 affordable housing units within Fresno County," he said.

There's also a shortage of landlords willing to accept Section 8.

The housing authority is hoping more landlords will apply to maintain the success of the program.

"Some of them are becoming homeless because of the high rent and I don't want to be one of those people," said Fresno resident Debbie Avalos.

Avalos is a single mother that at one point had three jobs, now that her children have started their own families she's retired.

But living in Central Fresno is becoming harder to do on a fixed income. She says she doesn't like asking for assistance, but she wants to maintain her independence.

"There comes a time when you really need the assistance and so you're going to step out and do whatever you can," she said.

Over the next two weeks, Fresno Housing Authority is expecting more than 30,000 applicants.

"It is a random lottery drawing so the time stamp doesn't matter it," Prince said. "It really is within that two week period everyone is treated the same within the lottery."

According to a California Housing Partnership study, since 2008, Fresno County has lost more than $27 million of state and federal funding for housing production and preservation, annually.
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