Fresno County needs more than 41,000 affordable rental homes to meet demand and reduce the burden on low-income families, according to a new housing emergency report released Monday.
There are a little more than 60,000 very-low-to-extremely-low-income renter households in the county, but fewer than 20,000 available rental homes that are affordable. The report found that those families spend more than half to almost three-quarters of their income on rent, leaving little for food, transportation, health care and other essentials.
Throw in a 7 percent increase in homelessness between 2016 and 2017 to make matters worse.
The California Housing Partnership, with the help of the Fresno Housing Authority, took a look at how rent increases, combined with the loss of state and federal funding for development and the rise in homelessness, has led to a shortage in affordable housing for low-income families.
Development using low-income housing tax credits in Fresno County fell 16 percent last year, the report said. But rent continues to increase. Renters need to make $19.21 an hour, or $3,330 a month, to afford the median monthly asking rent of $999, the report said. That's nearly twice the state's minimum wage at $11 an hour.
"Rising rents and decreased incomes are having a huge impact on our families,” said Preston Prince, chief executive officer and executive director of the housing authority.
The partnership and the housing authority called on state and local leaders to help low-income families. The recommendations include:
▪ Investing $1 billion of the state's budget surplus to build affordable rental housing and $1 billion for supportive housing for the homeless. Bring back redevelopment money, initially at $1 billion annually, for affordable housing.
▪ Campaigning for the passage of the $4 billion Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond of 2018.
▪ Identifying local funding sources for affordable housing and placing the money in a trust fund.
▪ Proposing new affordable housing investments that can compete for money through programs like No Place Like Home and Transformative Climate Communities.
▪ Identifying and appropriately zoning property for affordable housing that is close to public transportation, schools, grocery stores, and medical services.