In the new episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” CalMatters’ Manuela Tobias and Los Angeles Times Liam Dillon break down the Fresno housing market and explain why rents and house prices have skyrocketed, even in the midst of the pandemic. They are joined by Jovana Morales-Tilgren, who advocates for low-income tenants for Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, a nonprofit in Fresno.
Even though other California cities saw their rents drop during the pandemic, Fresno stood out.
Since 2017, the state’s fifth-largest city has seen rents increase by 39%. The new apartments are renting at prices similar to those in major coastal cities, and the average home is now selling for $ 331,000.
So how did the seemingly affordable Central Valley become one of the hottest housing markets in the country and a hotbed of California’s housing crisis?
Liam Dillon of the Los Angeles Times takes listeners through the conclusions of its March report on the city’s housing market, and Manuela Tobias of CalMatters provides the context for her story on poverty and inequality in Fresno.
The prices come down to population growth, housing development that stalled during the 2008-09 Great Recession and never picked up, and growing speculation. The result: an affordability crisis worse than Los Angeles and San Francisco, when combined with wages well below the region’s average.
Jovana Morales-Tilgren, Housing Policy Coordinator with Leadership advice for justice and accountability, explains the uneven impact of the housing market for its clients.
âFresno has a history of redlining and segregation,â Morales-Tilgren said. âLow-income people of color tend to live south of Fresno, and better-off people tend to live in Clovis and north. And unfortunately, many of the new subdivisions being built are being built north of Fresnoâ¦. No one can afford a $ 2,000 one bedroom here in Fresno, that’s ridiculous, so they have to choose apartments here in South Fresno that aren’t livable.
And as California’s housing protections for renters expire after Thursday, Morales-Tilgren said advocates braced for a wave of evictions.
“If the tenant cannot pay the rent and asks for the Emergency rental assistance program, and let’s say they’re waiting, it’s still waiting. If the landlord gives them an eviction notice and they go to court, technically the judge can’t go ahead with that eviction, âshe said. “We’re afraid that won’t happen, and the judges are just going to push forward with these expulsions.”
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