Clovis leaders are pushing back against comments made by a Fresno Housing Authority board member who questioned the agency’s first-ever project in their city.

Terra Brusseau serves on the 14-member Fresno Housing Authority board.

Brusseau’s remarks, made during a March 26 discussion about a 60-unit housing authority project at Willow and Alluvial avenues in Clovis, upset prominent community members. Her comments were first reported in The Fresno Bee.

As the board discussed the status of the project, Brusseau questioned whether the location was well-thought out. She said she opposes the project.

“But as I even just looked today at Garfield Elementary School, which is what the school that this feeds into … It is a majority white school, that, I think there are more, better areas for diversity and our residents to feel like they’re in the right place,” Brusseau said.

Fellow commissioner Adrian Jones followed, saying she, as an African-American woman, shared some of Brusseau’s concerns. Listen to the exchange below.

Clovis Responds

Clovis Mayor Drew Bessinger said in a statement Wednesday that he does not share Brusseau’s views.

“The City of Clovis does not oppose this project and believes that our community is strongest when there is a diverse choice of housing types and pricing-levels spread throughout all parts (of) the city.”Clovis Mayor Drew Bessinger

“The City of Clovis does not oppose this project and believes that our community is strongest when there is a diverse choice of housing types and pricing-levels spread throughout all parts (of) the city. We welcome all those who wish to call Clovis home, to take advantage of our schools, community safety and all things which come with The Clovis Way of Life,” he said in a news release.

“Commissioner Brusseau does not live in Clovis, does not operate a business in Clovis, and her comments do not reflect our community values of diversity and inclusivity,” the city stated in a news release.

The city of Clovis does not have direct representation on the FHA board.

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Concerns from Fresno Leaders

The Clovis reaction comes a day after two Fresno leaders — Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria and Paul Binion, senior pastor of Westside Church of God — told The Bee that they hope Fresno Mayor Lee Brand will reconsider his appointment of Brusseau.

Brusseau told the newspaper her remarks were being misinterpreted but apologized if anyone was offended by them.

During the March 26 discussion, Brusseau said she supports the agency’s move in to “areas of opportunity” but felt she had not had sufficient opportunity to weigh in on the selection of the site.

“I would love to be in Clovis in a more thoughtful place, to me, that makes more sense for our residents. So this specific property, I feel like was sort of shoved, I guess, at me,” she said. Listen to those comments below.

The 14-member housing authority board includes seven representatives from the city of Fresno, and seven from the county. At least two of the Fresno city members must be FHA tenants (with one over the age of 62).

Brand appointed Brusseau to the board in April 2018. She is a well-known local political fundraiser and was involved in Brand’s 2016 mayoral campaign. Her FHA term expires in 2022.

Soria Questioned Brusseau’s Appointment

During the city council’s debate on her appointment at its April 19, 2018 meeting, Soria expressed disappointment that Brand nominated Brusseau rather than reappoint Virna Santos, who was the city’s representative at the time.

“I don’t think (Brusseau’s resume) compares to the great experience that (Santos) brings to the Fresno Housing Authority,” Soria said during the debate. “Our boards are reflective of the community we serve and represent.”

Soria added at the time: “I was taken aback (Santos) wasn’t considered again to continue serving. I hope that as the mayor brings future appointments (he considers) the type of diversity the board needs.”

“(Mayor Brand is) very confident in Terra’s ability to serve on the board,” city manager Wilma Quan said in response.

The council approved Brusseau’s appointment by a 5-0 vote with Soria abstaining.

In a comment to The Bee, Brand said he stands by Brusseau.

4 Responses

  1. Chris

    I continue to be impressed by GVWire’s local news coverage; no other news outlet thought it would be helpful to include the audio of the actual comments at issue in their reporting about this controversy. Thank you and please keep it up.

    Reply
    • Armenian American

      Her responses are bizarre, and not sure what she is trying to allude to or articulate. She seems like she is not a good communicator. The black woman that spoke after her was more articulate. I live near that school and it’s not “all white” and many white people have low housing needs. Majority of the homeless are white. Again not sure what she was trying to communicate about her concerns for children not being in a diverse environment?

      Reply
  2. Redd

    Lets get real though, that lady said what all Clovis residents would say when they find out they want to put low income projects in an area that is considered middle-to-high income and one of the nicer places to live in fresno county. People have worked hard to live in that area and they live there to move away from the types of housing and people that they are trying to build. Make it known more to clovis residents that they want to build projects there, and you’ll find a lot more backlash.

    Reply
    • Armenian American

      I live near there and can tell you we pay more in property taxes for CUSD and it would be a concern for homeowners, but perhaps the people that need low cost housing have jobs are responsible people they just cannot afford rent on their salaries. Maybe they would appreciate the opportunity for their children to attend a good school and not abuse this opportunity. Lets not turn this into a division or race war, her comments were delivered incoherently. Hopefully we don’t get into the free breakfast and free lunch business like FUSD has, over 70% of their students qualify for this. Strange, my grandparents were immigrants never got a cent from the government, yet my grandmother always made sure my dad and his siblings were fed. Working 24 hours a day on their small farm and other packing houses they did it.

      Reply

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