Slum housing gets new life


Fresno leaders say a pair of rehabbed apartments shows their commitment to eliminating slum housing.

The units, at 4538 E. Olive Avenue and 1131 N. Jackson, were simply uninhabitable. Holes in the ceiling. Countertops falling apart. Rot and termite damage.

It was so bad, the city took the properties away from the owners.  And the result is night and day.

“Our goal at the city of Fresno is to make sure all rental housing, all housing, is habitable, is safe, and we want to eliminate blight of substandard housing,” said Mayor Lee Brand.

Brand says most of the time, the city will issue citations and the owners will make corrections. Simple.

But sometimes owners don’t cooperate.  And if that continues, the city can ask the court to take control of the property away from the owner, and give it to another person called a receiver.  That is exactly what happened here.

“We took 13 units that were totally uninhabitable, and turned them into units that people can live in,” said Brand. 

Riley Walter is the attorney of the receiver put in charge of the units. He called their condition deplorable.

“In this instance the city worked with the property owner and the lender for over four and a half years,” said Walter. “‘Please fix it, please fix it. If you don’t, we’re going to do this.’  Finally the patience wore out.”

Fresno petitioned for control of the apartments last November, while Ashley Swearengin was still mayor.

Mayor Brand says restructuring late last year and early this year has City Hall even better prepared to tackle slum housing. Now, it’s all about following through.  

“It’s one thing to get the legislation passed,” Brand said. “Now the hard work is going to be implementing.”

The apartments are now looking for a new buyer. It goes to court for approval in August.

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