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$1,000 in Housing Help for Fresno Residents Passes 1st Hurdle



Image of a gloved hand, a dollar bill folded into the shape of a house, and coronavirus symbolizing challenges of paying rents and mortgages during the pandemic
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(UPDATE — 4/23/2020: The Fresno City Council passed the housing assistance resolution by a 4-3 vote asking the city manager and a subcommittee to return with more details on how to execute the plan. Councilmen Garry Bredefeld, Mike Karbassi, and Paul Caprioglio voted no, saying they were concerned about specifics on funding the programs.)

The original story

The Fresno City City Council is contemplating grants of up to $1,000 to help residents with rents and mortgages during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Proposed by Esmeralda Soria, the council would use $1.5 million to create the COVID-19 Consumer Grant Program. The goal is to prevent evictions and support housing assistance.

The council will discuss the resolution during a special meeting Thursday. The council will meet in regular session as well.

Additionally, the council will discuss adding $1 million to the Save Our Small Businesses fund.

“We want to make sure that we do whatever is possible within the city’s financial ability to provide some relief both to the consumer and to the small businesses,” said Soria.

Housing Relief Will Provide a ‘Win-Win’

“If this is a priority for the city of Fresno, I believe that an early investment is going to help save our economy.”Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria

Soria said providing money to those who need help is a win-win for tenants and landlords.

“(Landlords) would now have the ability to receive some rent during this time of uncertainty (from) many of the folks that have either lost jobs or reduced wages,” Soria said.

Although the resolution mentions “renters,” Soria said it’s her intention to provide relief to homeowners with mortgages as well.

Grant Program Details

To be eligible for the Consumer Grant Program, a recipient must be a Fresno resident, provide a rental agreement and evidence the grant would go to housing needs, and prove a hardship caused by the pandemic.

Another requirement is that a household must be at 80% or less of the average median income. The median income for the county, according to the most recent U.S. Census statistics, is $51,261; 80% would be $41,009.

The grant would be $400 per individual; $800 per couple or single parent with children; and $1,000 for a family with multiple adults and children.

By the numbers, the program would help between 1,000 and 3,750 households.

Non-Citizens Eligible

While grant recipients must be Fresno residents, U.S. citizenship is not a prerequisite.

“We’re not asking for any of that. As long as you can prove you are a resident of the city and you can prove that you are in financial need for housing costs or whatnot related to it, then you can qualify,” Soria said.

Soria also said she wanted to help those who were not eligible for federal stimulus checks, including those living in mixed immigration status households.

The proposed resolution says “priority should be given to Fresno city residents that meet the program criteria and are otherwise ineligible for federal stimulus funding.”

Small Businesses Loan Applications Still Being Sorted

With an extra million dollars, Soria wants to help more small businesses.

Ten days after the April 12 deadline to apply, the city is still sorting out all its applicants for the $750,000 Save Our Small Businesses Act.

Soria said more than 2,600 businesses submitted applications, but only around 1,000 were eligible. According to the program, businesses could receive up to $10,000 in a loan-to-grant.

Federal Stimulus Would Reimburse City

As the resolution is written, the money would come from the city’s general fund that was once designated for projects like the Fresno Food Expo — the city spent $62,500 sponsoring for the now-defunct event, various housing funds, and unallocated funds from the sale of property.

Soria is also counting on reimbursement from the federal government. The city will receive approximately $90 million from the CARES Act for COVID-19 related expenses.

“If this is a priority for the city of Fresno, I believe that an early investment is going to help save our economy,” Soria said. “We need to do this. It’s not only a moral imperative to make sure that people can stay housed, but also a necessity so that we prevent businesses from closing before we reopen our local economy right now.”


Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email