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Fresno Renters, It Is Time To Organize For A Guarantee Of A Clean, Safe, Affordable Home

Fresno Renters: It Is Time to Organize for a Guarantee of a Clean, Safe, Affordable Home

By Alexandra Alvarado, Rain Chamberlin and Hannah Ellsworth—Aug. 3, 2021

Earlier this year, Fresnoland revealed the case of Manchester Arms, a Fresno apartment complex where residents were living in horribly unsafe conditions.

Inez Hernandez, a mother living in the complex, did what tenants are supposed to do when landlords fail to uphold their end of the bargain, which is maintaining their units in habitable conditions. She called city code enforcement. Despite multiple calls for help, the city did not enforce deadlines on the landlord, and she and her children were left to live in those conditions until they were evicted. Inez has a 7-year eviction record because our housing and legal systems were designed to protect property rights and our government continues to uphold them at the expense of renters.

As typically happens with injustice, when the story becomes public, it prompts outrage and action from the city. But contrary to the city attorney’s odd claim that this was a “unique” case, these experiences are neither unusual nor new in Fresno. We’ve been here before. Many of us organized against blighted vacant properties and slumlording and pushed Fresno to pass the Rental Housing Improvement Act in 2016. To say we are frustrated to see Fresno cycling through the same problems that leave families living in misery, falling into poverty, and facing being homeless is an understatement. Therefore we are delivering the following call to action.

To our city’s leaders: you’re on notice. We expect accountability, urgency, and evidence that you are taking unprecedented, bold, and courageous action to transform the long-term consequences of our broken housing system.

But we did not write this for our city leaders. We have done enough of that. Instead, we write for the renters and everyone who understands that our fates are intertwined and that we have a shared responsibility to unite and transform our housing system toward one that ensures everyone can live in a safe and secure home. We all know someone who’s been impacted by constant, recurring housing issues. The housing crisis affects us all.

To the thousands of renters in Fresno: we write this for you, for us, and for everyone whose loved ones and neighbors have been impacted by the housing crisis. We see you — sacrificing your well-being to keep a roof over your head, sitting on edge as the first of the month approaches, working around the mold and leaky pipes, trying to keep your families together and stay positive for your children. We see you, we hear you, some of us are you.

We, the members of the Community Cares project with Faith in the Valley, who all carry our own housing stories full of trauma, triumph, insecurity, and survival, are calling on renters across the Central Valley to see and support one another and work together to realize a shared vision.

Read more at The Fresno Bee.

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