City of Fresno mulls program to help tenants in 'unlivable' homes

'We have seen residents living in houses full of mold... having to choose between their health and staying housed'
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A proposed relocation assistance program through the City of Fresno would help tenants whose rentals are deemed unlivable by city inspectors.

"Whether that's a major leak in the roof, a lot of mold growing inside your unit and our city staff says, 'Hey, you legally cannot live here. The conditions are so bad you have to be relocated by your landlord'," says Fresno City Council Vice-President Tyler Maxwell

Maxwell says state law requires landlords to cover up to two months of rent while the tenant relocates until repairs can be made.

But sometimes that doesn't happen.

"We have seen instances where residents are living in houses full of mold," says Leadership Counsel policy advocate Karla Martinez. "We're seeing that families are having to choose between their health and their well-being and staying housed, which shouldn't be the case."

The resolution that will be introduced to the city council on Thursday would allow the city to go after 150% of the rent paid by tenants as a deterrent to landlords who don't cover relocation costs when inspectors say their rentals are unlivable.

"So if we relocate somebody and we paid two months' rent, let's say that $2,000, we can not just go after that $2,000 but an additional $1,000 as a penalty to that landlord," says Maxwell.

The proposal to be considered by council would also establish a fund between $50,000 - $100,000 to assist tenants in the relocation assistance program.

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