A recent ruling on a lawsuit filed in 2019 says the city of Clovis must begin the process of building more high-density, affordable housing and has been violating a state law by not doing so.
Attorney Patience Milrod, executive director of Central California Legal Services, says Clovis has traditionally zoned for single family homes, pricing out low-income residents.
“The court’s order will force Clovis for the first time in decades to zone for lower-income housing, which is something Clovis has refused to do for, gosh, at least 50 years,” Milrod says.
She filed the lawsuit on behalf of Dez Martinez, a homeless advocate and founder of the non-profit, We Are Not Invisible. Martinez became aware of the problem when she was looking for housing a few years ago.
“When I got a homeless voucher, that was the first place I ran back to, to go look for and I couldn't find anything because I didn't want to be in Fresno because all the places that accepted my vouchers in Fresno were high-crime areas,” she says.
The ruling says a court order will be issued soon, forcing the city to comply with the Housing Element Law. The law requires high-density, low income housing to be made available.
That means the city will have to properly zone for 4,400 units in four months. Once that happens, developers can then build high-density housing at a minimum of 20 units per acre. The order requires 200 acres to be zoned.
Martinez says low-income families deserve an equal opportunity to live in communities like Clovis.
“They need to be given vouchers and opportunities to go into a neighborhood that is clean, that is crime free, close to schools, close to clean parks, close to a lot more lighting. They have a lot of lighting on their streets,” Martinez says.
The order may be issued in the next two weeks. In that time, the city of Clovis can file an appeal.