Housing Watch: Challenges for Valley families in need of public housing

Dale Yurong Image
Thursday, May 4, 2023
Housing Watch: Challenges for local families in need of public housing
The data shows from coast to coast, families in need of public housing are in for a long wait.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The need for affordable housing is immense.

More than 3,000 people applied for the 57 units recently available at the Monarch in Chinatown.

"Finding housing in Fresno takes a while," says Fresno Housing CEO Tyrone Roderick Williams. "It is an effort and we encourage our residents not to get discouraged."

HUD data showed the wait time to secure a place in Fresno public housing takes. On average -- 42 months.

The wait for public housing is even longer in Kings County - 47 months.

Merced County showed a wait time of 31 months, while it was 24 months in Madera County.

Rain Chamberlain calls it a frustrating situation for the unhoused.

"We are expected to either climb out of the hole by ourselves, which is almost completely impossible in the current system, or just die, move, rely on other people," Chamberlain said.

HUD data showed Fresno Housing has 929 affordable units but 95% of them are already occupied.

Williams doesn't see a large turnover rate.

"What we're seeing is people aren't moving," he said. "I mean, if you get an apartment through us or any other source, people are staying put."

A Housing Choice Voucher allows the Housing Authority to cover up to 70% of rent.

Of the 13,035 vouchers in Fresno, 88% are in use.

Data shows it takes people 26 months to find a place that accepts Section 8 vouchers.

Chamberlain's still looking.

"We are homeless at the couch surfing level of homelessness," Chamberlain said.

The wait lists for public housing and vouchers are so long, Fresno Housing isn't taking new applications right now.

"In the not-too-distant future, we will be announcing the opportunity for our interest list to be opened and take additional names," Williams said.

Williams adds production of affordable housing has slowed, while inflation and soaring rent prices have all combined for a perfect storm - and he doesn't see the clouds clearing anytime soon.

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