Fresno’s rich history of immigration includes waves of Armenians, Basques, Chinese, Japanese, Germans, Italians, Sikhs, and Hmong. The single most prominent group is Latinos, primarily of Mexican origin. But Fresno’s history also includes egregious examples of redlining and other forms of economic discrimination based on race and national origin. The result? The notorious “tale of two cities”. A core principle of the One Fresno economic development strategy is to reduce economic inequality and support not only job growth but wealth creation across the city.
In 2016, the Urban Institute ranked Fresno ranked 253 out of 274 cities on overall inclusion, 263rd on economic inclusion, and 182nd on racial inclusion.
Roughly 25% of City of Fresno residents live under the poverty line compared to 13% for the state of California overall.
Filling the Housing Deficit
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Overcoming History, Making Room for the Future
In 2016, the Urban Institute ranked 274 U.S. cities on their performance against multiple measures of inclusion including economic and racial inclusion. Fresno ranked 253 out of 274 cities on overall inclusion, 263rd on economic inclusion, and 182nd on racial inclusion. While Fresnans must recognize and take responsibility for the decades of institutional and economic discrimination behind these numbers, the Urban Institute also noted that the trend was going in the right direction. Fresno is trying to reckon with its past and build One Fresno. Decades of neglect can’t be overcome in one year or one mayoral administration.
But we can build a framework for an economic ecosystem that allows for continued progress. The city applauds the Fresno DRIVE effort to achieve this goal, including its 19 specific proposals for economic investment. Our team is actively involved in the DRIVE steering committee and our inclusion programs align with the DRIVE plan.
The One Fresno vision is an inclusive and prosperous city for all Fresnans. To get there, the city must reckon with its past of redlining and discriminatory development policies and build an economy that provides an opportunity for all.
Broadening Access to Small Business Financing
To address the need for growth capital, the City of Fresno in partnership with the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce (FMBCC) has launched the first Kiva micro-lending hub in Fresno to provide small businesses with 0% crowdfunded loans from $1,000-$15,000.
Encouraging Private Capital to Invest in Fresno
Opportunity Zones are census tracts across the U.S. recognized as chronically economically distressed. Investors are eligible for significant tax incentives when they re-invest capital gains earnings in real estate projects or operating businesses in an Opportunity Zone. The City launched the Opportunity Fresno website to encourage investors to back projects in Fresno.
Filling the Need for Housing for Infill Neighborhoods
The City of Fresno’s 2014 General Plan refocuses on infill development along the Blackstone and Kings Canyon Transit Corridors. The City has backed this commitment by investing more than $50 million in infrastructure and improving the coexistence of pedestrian, bike, and public transportation.
While clearly not enough to fill the affordable housing deficit, several infill projects are underway to spur this transit corridor revitalization effort.
- LINGO PROJECT The Lingo Project is located at Blackstone and McKinley, near Fresno City College. This four-story proposed project sits next to Fresno’s Bus Rapid Transit route and will include 88 affordable housing units, a 6,000 square foot medical and dental clinic and a senior center.
- LAS PALMAS DE SAL GONZALES The Las Palmas De Sal Gonzales is a new intergenerational affordable housing community that opened in southeast Fresno in 2019. This residential community features 135 units of affordable high-quality housing for families and seniors as well as an afterschool program for young residents and programs for seniors. The community is equipped with a computer lab, recreational room, community kitchen, patio courtyard, picnic area, garden area, child activity area, two multipurpose rooms, library and senior activity area.
- SHAW-GLENN PROJECT The proposed Shaw-Glenn Project is a housing development that will be located on Shaw Avenue near Blackstone. When built, the project will offer 138 Studio and apartment units with up to 20% designated for low-income residents. The project will also incorporate ground floor retail uses.
- BLACKSTONE CENTER The proposed Blackstone Center is located on Blackstone just south of Shaw. The project incorporates a total of three structures with retail/ office uses fronting Blackstone Ave. and a four-story apartment building in the rear. The dwelling units will offer a high-end, unique housing alternative that will include 14 affordable units and 120 market-rate units.
- ELM AVENUE REVITALIZATION PROJECT The Saints Rest Community Economic Development Corporation is leading the Elm Avenue Revitalization Project funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, recently completing the Phase 1 open play area and now moving onto other greenspace projects including an “airnasium” open-air multi-sports facility. Phase II will add mixed-use community buildings and the eventual Phase III calls for housing alternatives in the same Elm Ave. Community Hub planning area.
- THE MONARCH in CHINATOWN This $24.6 million housing project broke ground in September 2020 in one of Downtown Fresno’s most underserved areas under the supervision of the Fresno Housing Authority. It is on the list of projects identified through the Transform Fresno initiative, funded by $66.5 million in cap-and-trade proceeds from the State of California. The project will contain 56 affordable housing units and approximately 4,700 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.