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Council, Mayor Dyer Face Big Decisions on Fresno Housing Crisis



Affordable housing and homelessness are the subjects of the Fresno City Council's special workshop meeting on Wednesday. (Shutterstock)
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Mayor Jerry Dyer released his three-year strategic housing plan last week and it will be presented to the city council in a special meeting Wednesday on Fresno’s housing crisis.

With input from a handful of community organizations and City Hall staff, the mayor’s report focuses on the top priorities to preserve and add housing, including plans to prevent displacement and promote equitable homeownership.

While the city has secured $74 million in funding for affordable housing, it needs an additional $101.6 million, according to the report. City Hall also has $35.2 million in hand to provide housing for homeless people; it needs $153.1 million more to realize the mayor’s goals.

“The first three chapters deal with the state of the problem at a national and local level and then chapter four really gets into the things that we are going to be doing as a city in order to address the housing crisis,” Dyer said of the report at last week’s city council meeting.

Fresno’s Top Housing Priorities

Initially, a report commissioned by the city in partnership with the Thrivance Group, an equitable land-use agency, recommended 46 policy recommendations for the city to adopt to bring more affordable housing to Fresno.

That list was narrowed to 15, and at least eight of the policies were supported by Dyer.

Mayor Jerry Dyer fully supported eight out of 15 housing policies recommended by the Thrivance Group. (GV Wire/Paul Marshall)

Similarly, the city’s recent housing strategy proposes 47 priorities just like the initial Here to Stay Report, including an additional 24 priority recommendations to help reduce homelessness.

“We looked at not only what the need was but the need by units, and there is going to be a number of eye-opening things in there that we are going to see in terms of an overabundance of certain types of units and a drastic shortage of other types of units that are really needed in our city,” said Dyer.

Among some of the top housing priorities recommended by the Thrivance Group, the city report also endorses down-payment assistance, eviction protection, and rent-control programs, as well as a community land trust and a GeoHub platform.

Here’s How Much Funding the City of Fresno Needs

The city’s strategic housing plan identified how much funding the city has secured and how much it needs.

So far, the city of Fresno has secured more than $74 million in funding and investments, however, Fresno is still short a total of $101.6 million dollars in additional funding and investments for affordable housing and housing projects.

Additionally, the city is also seeking a total of $153.1 million to help produce 2,231 affordable housing units for homeless individuals with up to 50% of the area’s median income.

The city’s report indicates that these 2,231 units will provide shelter for thousands of homeless individuals with the city already securing $35.2 million for the next three years.

“We assigned dollar amount by fiscal year for the next three years so that we can move towards meeting these goals and policies,” said Dyer.

In Wednesday’s meeting, the Fresno City Council will hold workshops on both the mayor’s “One Fresno Housing Plan” and the “Here to Stay Report.”

Council president Nelson Esparza said he was looking forward to the meeting, and other councilmembers noted that they had a responsibility to take action.

“We will be hearing the mayor’s housing plan as well as the Here to Stay report, a couple of workshops, and this council will have a lively and I hope productive discussion on what direction we move with continuing to address the housing crisis that our city, in particular, is in,” said Esparza.

Fresno Housing Needs

While other California cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have always been expensive to live in, Fresno once offered the convenience of affordable living.

(Source: One Fresno Housing Plan)

Inflationary rent increases, low housing stock, and booming housing prices have made Fresno home to some of the nation’s highest rent increases.

A study by Apartment List found that rents in Fresno increased 10.8% in 2020, and continued increasing in 2021 and 2022.

Data by real estate listing website Zumper shows Fresno’s one-bedroom apartments rose 28% between 2021 and 2022, while two-bedroom apartments soared by 27%.

California Will Be Short 1.8 Million Housing Units in 2025

To make matters worse, in the last decade, California has averaged fewer than 80,000 new homes annually and California’s Department of Housing and Community Development predicts California will be 1.8 million housing units short of demand by 2025.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic helped exacerbate the demand for housing in Fresno after a wave of millennials and low-income families left coastal cities for more affordable cities like Fresno and Bakersfield.

This migration set off a hot housing market, pricing out many low-income families from affordable rental units and single-family homes as prices for both skyrocketed.

With a low housing inventory, Fresno will need to build 6,926 affordable housing units, including an additional 4,110 market-rate housing units in the next three years to meet housing demands. according to the city’s report.

Liz Juarez joined GV Wire in July, 2021 as a Digital News Producer. She has experience working for publications around the Central Valley including the Clovis Roundup, Porterville Recorder and Hanford Sentinel. While in college, she interned for Mountain West Athletics and served as Outreach Chair for the Fresno State Radio and Television Digital News Association (RTDNA). Liz earned a bachelor's degree in Media Communications and Journalism at Fresno State and a master's degree in Communications from Arizona State University. In her down time, she enjoys reading, drawing and staying active by playing basketball, taking trips to the coast and visiting national parks. You can contact Liz at