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California’s Poorest Big City Faces a Different Kind of Housing Crisis



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FRESNO, CA—On a recent weekday morning in Fresno’s Addams neighborhood, 10 women gathered in the recreation room of a mobile home park. A local nonprofit had convened this meeting to assist the low-income community in this metropolis of one million in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Over the babble of toddlers playing in the back, attendees spoke in Spanish about various local needs: One person was concerned about a dangerous street crossing; others described a frustrating gap in trash pickup.
Then discussion turned to housing. “Who has heard of gentrification?” Grecia Elenes, a senior policy advocate at the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, asked in Spanish. No one raised a hand.
Elenes described the process by which wealthier and often whiter residents transform a neighborhood. Juliana Seguín, who lives with her husband and four children in a nearby three-bedroom apartment, piped up. Her month-to-month rent has climbed from $850 in 2017 to $1,550, as her complex has undergone renovations to attract a better-paid crowd, she said. Another renter in attendance, Patricia Lobato, chimed in: She had been recently forced to move, due to a giant rent hike.

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