FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – As Mayor Jerry Dyer participates in a housing study in Vienna, Austria, members of the community in Fresno continue to demand the city takes action to mitigate the affordable housing crisis.
“No one’s getting paid more but rent’s continued to rise,” said Karla Martinez, a policy advocate for the Leadership Council for Justice and Accountability.
Martinez says the renters she represents in southeast Fresno were hit hard by the recent heatwave. Many of them went without air conditioning during the hottest week of the year. Meanwhile, their rents continue to increase without proper rent control from the city.
“Shouldn’t the city be paying attention to these uninhabitable homes? I think a lot of folks would be fine if rents were continuing to go up if they saw those investments go back into the home,” Martinez said.
Activists at Wednesday’s press conference called on their council member, Luis Chavez, to implement weatherization programs that would reduce energy costs for low-income households.
“I think we should look at how the city should invest in weatherization programs. Whether that looks retrofitting windows, sliding doors, insulation, newer air conditioning systems,” Chavez said.
Another issue both Chavez and housing activists agree on is the need for Fresno to hold negligent homeowners accountable.
“The owner comes and tells the staff that everything is fine and nothing needs fixing, but she sees there are issues with the house still going on,” Martinez said about one resident.
“The city does need to be a little more aggressive with irresponsible property owners and make sure they keep their properties up. If they’re not going to rent them, they need to be responsible for the maintenance of them on an ongoing basis,” Chavez said.
According to Chavez, right now the city is in a fact-finding and research phase for how to make the best use of the $42 million ARPA funds set aside by the city to address the housing crisis. He says we can expect some initiatives to come forward in the near future.