A recent survey carried out by a group of local community organizations has revealed that the biggest worry for residents in Fresno this year is access to affordable housing. To help address the shortage of housing for lower income families and individuals throughout California, the state Governor has asked the Department of Housing and Community Development to find excess and underused state-owned plots of land. In partnership with housing developers, these can then be used for sustainable and affordable housing, creating vibrant neighborhoods for previously overlooked communities.
Breaking Ground on an Affordable Development
With the help of a mini excavator, a groundbreaking ceremony was held this summer in central Fresno. The plot housed a former toy store that had fallen into disrepair but that will now be redeveloped to provide 41 units of affordable housing. The properties are all aimed at low-income families with around half being set aside for young people leaving institutions or currently facing homelessness. To move construction along, compact excavators that can work in tight spaces are well suited to plots in built up areas, and developers will be looking to buy mini excavator tracks to match the urban terrain of pavement and dirt. As well as providing the foundations for an efficient building that meets California’s Green building standards, the ground will be dug and developed with drought-resistant landscaping to enhance the exterior of the property in a sustainable way.
Finding More Land for Cost-Effective Housing
Other accessible developments are planned throughout California, and already the Excess Land for Affordable Housing program has brought together government organizations, local communities, and developers to start building over 4,400 new homes. California’s governor has recently announced the availability of five more potential development sites owned by the state. Together with the California Department of Housing and Community Development and the California Department of General Services, he is seeking developers to help build hundreds more new units for low-income families and individuals. The sites are mostly unused former commercial buildings and they include property previously used as offices by the Water Resources Board in Fresno. Transforming excess state-owned property in this way could help to speed up the development of affordable housing across California.
Awarding Funding to Local Housing Initiatives
In order to fund more affordable housing developments, Fresno City Council has set aside over $40 million from the 2022/23 budget to invest in local housing initiatives. Rents in Fresno reached a record high earlier this year, and less than 40% of residents are in a position to buy a median-priced property in the region. However, a plan to address the current crisis, One Fresno Housing Strategy, has made 71 housing recommendations which could potentially see a share of the funding, helping to ease the housing and homelessness situation.
This year’s most pressing concern for residents of Fresno has been access to adequate and affordable housing. As well as a new development specifically aimed at low-income families and vulnerable young people in the city, a program to transform excess land for affordable housing throughout California is gaining momentum.