Crossroads Village has been renovated as an affordable housing project in Fresno


Crossroads Village will be converted into permanent, affordable housing. The project will fill vacancies through the FCoC’s Harmonized Entry System.

A new affordable housing project in central Fresno will soon be available to help house some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

Crossroads Village, located at 3737 N Blackstone Ave., will be converted into permanent affordable housing, according to a press release from developers RH Community Builders and UPholdings. Crossroads Village used to be the Smugglers Inn before it was converted into rapid rehousing for Fresso’s homeless community in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UPholdings acquired Crossroads Village in 2020, marking its first acquisition in the central San Joaquin Valley. Although the group was founded in Chicago, they have multiple properties in California, all located in the Central Valley. Jessica Hoff-Berzak, co-founder and principal of UPholdings, explained why the developer was interested in this section of the state.

“This is where I was born and raised,” Biersack said. “I set my limits on the Valley because it’s where I’m from. It’s a housing crisis that I see every day. I mean you can’t drive down your hometown street and see people sleeping on the streets and not do anything about it if it’s your job.”

Although no new construction is required for the affordable housing project, Crossroads Village will need to make renovations to convert its 200 single-use rooms into 143 studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units.

The units will be available to Fresnan residents who make 30% or less of the area median income, according to the project’s press release. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that the median household income in Fresno for 2023 is $79,400.

The California Housing Project releases an annual report on the affordable housing needs of all counties in the state. The 2023 Affordable Housing Needs Report for Fresno County found that renters “need to earn $25.23 per hour — 1.6 times the state minimum wage — to cover the average asking monthly rent of $1,312.”

They also found that “36,199 low-income renter households in Fresno County do not have access to an affordable home.”

Crossroad’s Village initially received $15.3 million in Project Hockey funds in 2020 to convert the space into emergency rapid rehousing for Californians experiencing homelessness who were at high risk for serious illness or impacted by COVID-19, according to the project’s press release.

Since 2020, the project has received nearly $60 million in funding through local programs including the California Housing Accelerator, No Place Like Home, Housing for a Healthy California, and Fresno County.

Crossroads Village will also provide comprehensive support services to its tenants through the Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health. Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig stressed the importance of Crossroads Village providing these services to its residents.

“Fresno County continues to prioritize investment in affordable housing through partnerships like those with UPholdings and RH Community Builders,” Magsig said in the news release. “But more importantly, our Behavioral Health Department will provide comprehensive, integrated supportive services for the long-term needs of the individuals and families who will live in these permanent units.”

When the affordable housing project opens, the apartments will be rented through a referral process managed by the Fresno Madera Continuum Of Care. FMCoC will select tenants for referral through the Coordinated Entry System in an effort to best allocate the appropriate amount of resources to any given person and situation they face.

Coordinated entry is a federal process mandated by HUD.

Crossroads Village will also “designate for people with serious mental illness who are chronically homeless, homeless, or at risk of chronic homelessness,” No Place Like Home funding states. The number of units set aside will be about 30%, according to Biersack.

Katie Wilbur is the Executive Director of RH Community Builders, as well as an at-large member of FMCoC. Wilbur helped explain the coordinated entry process to Fresno.

“Individuals experiencing homelessness and looking for housing can go to any of the “community outreach sites,” listed on the Fresno Madera Continuing Care website, and request “navigation services” so they can work with a navigator to find housing. “The right housing,” Wilber said. , which typically involves the use of a coordinated access system.”

“Individuals who are already staying in low-barrier shelters in the community are already working with the navigators and will already be part of the coordinated entry system,” Wilber said.

Berzac also helped explain why the HS referral process is selective, rather than demand-based. She acknowledged the general confusion and frustration some may feel in the process.

“Some people who are experiencing homelessness, maybe they just need help paying the rent, and they can actually stay in their (current) unit,” Wilber said. “With a coordinated approach, taking into account the sheer number of people who need help, we are trying to bring some justice to this process and not let someone who maybe doesn’t need it as much as someone else does.”

“I never want to give false hope,” Biersack said. “I mean it’s not a perfect process at all. Don’t get me wrong, everyone’s needs are through the roof. But the goal, as stated, is to have a coordinated system for getting people into housing like this.”

Renovations to Crossroads Village are expected to be completed by next summer, according to the UPholdings website. They expect to begin the leasing process in late 2024 or early 2025.

What is coordinated access?

Coordinated admission is a process mandated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development that aims to ensure that housing resources are appropriately allocated to people experiencing a housing crisis. Resources are allocated based on a person’s needs. Coordinated Access also links community housing services and resources to simplify the allocation process.

The HS mandate is typically tied to program funds received by a developer for a housing project.

HUD introduced Coordinated Entry as a response to entrenched practices conducted by local continuums of care that it felt were not meeting the housing needs of its community.

“…Some program participants received help that was more comprehensive than they needed, some participants received less help than they needed, and many people, often with the greatest needs, received no help at all because they were excluded under the admissions criteria.” Exclusionary or “project-determined preferences,” read the basic elements of HUD’s coordinated entry.

The community’s coordinated entry system is operated through its local chain of care – the local code of conduct being the Fresno Madera chain of care. Residents looking to join FMCoC’s Coordinated Access system can do so by visiting one of their access sites.

“Individuals experiencing homelessness and looking for housing can go to any of the access sites…and request ‘navigation services’ so they can work with a navigator to find appropriate housing, which typically involves using the coordinated entry system,” Katie said. Wilbur, a member of the Fresno Madera General Care chain.

“Individuals who are already staying in low-barrier shelters in the community are already working with the navigators and will already be part of the coordinated entry system,” Wilber said.

A list of FMCoC access points, as well as information on how to handle coordinated access, can be found on their website.

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