The Fresno City Council’s recent decision to reject the Quality Inn Homekey project is not just disappointing from a project development standpoint, it’s financially reckless, denies immediate funding for our city, places future state proposals in jeopardy, and will have a direct, negative impact on the lives of those in our community who desperately need housing.
Affordable housing advocates and developers are not new to fear-based opposition and NIMBYism prior to new developments, but this is the first time in our 20-year history that a city has meticulously selected a location and the council voted unanimously to approve the project, only to have some council members flip-flop on their support just months later based on false claims of inflated costs, inaccurate zoning excuses, and unjustified assumptions of the lifestyles of people who are exiting homelessness.
The Quality Inn Homekey project received more public support than opposition at the council dais, but the council members who voiced their sudden fears of the location opted to side with the voices of the few, instead of supporting a project that would have provided 59 units of permanent supportive housing in 2024 for the people in our city who need it most.
The Quality Inn near Highway 41 and Bullard Avenue was the ideal location for a Homekey project for a multitude of reasons and was hand-selected by council member Garry Bredefeld. In April 2023, once the city of Fresno instructed development partner RH Community Builders to secure the location, all seven council members voted in favor of the entire project, including the city of Fresno’s financial contributions and state of California Homekey funds. The project was zoned appropriately, did not require any council action, and follows the City’s Housing Element, Consolidated Plan, and General Plan.
After this unanimous resolution, the project went through a rigorous and costly due process to ensure its feasibility and was awarded $16.45 million in state funding for this specific project and location. The project scope remained the same from April to December, yet the council decided to renege on its resolution.
This sudden reversal of a council resolution is not just legally problematic and poor governance, it’s a breach of trust in a public-private partnership and a breach between the state of California and the city of Fresno.
The federal and state mandates on Fresno to foster fair housing and create opportunities were aligned with this initiative, and co-developers UPholdings and RH Community Builders have a proven track record of developing other successful Homekey projects that have had positive ripple effects throughout the Central Valley.
We remain resolute in our commitment to listening to and advocating for our unhoused neighbors and fighting for housing solutions despite the city council’s regrettable decision. We look forward to hearing how the city of Fresno and its council members plan to pivot quickly and reallocate the time-sensitive funding that was earmarked for this project — particularly the council members who voted against it and who remain in dire need of affordable housing in their districts.
About the Author
Jared Davis is the project manager for UPholdings, a comprehensive real estate firm founded in 2003 that creates, operates, and sustains affordable housing throughout the country. Based in Lincolnwood, Illinois, UPholdings also has offices in Fresno and Gary, Indiana.
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