The City of Visalia is centrally located in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, midway between the State's two major urban areas, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Founded over 130 years ago, Visalia is the valley's oldest city and serves as the county seat for Tulare County. Historically an agricultural community, Visalia's economy has progressively become more diversified with businesses ranging from industry to retail and professional trades.
Visalia's Consolidated Plan is a five year strategy to address the community's needs with regard to affordable housing, community development, and economic development. The Consolidated Plan includes a One Year Action Plan which outlines the City's plans for spending $1,173,000 of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and $451,000 of Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) funds. These funds will be spent primarily on housing, neighborhood livability, and economic development activities.
To ensure that citizens had ample opportunity to participate in the development of Visalia's Consolidated Plan, the City used alternative methods of community participation. Besides having the requisite two public hearings, the City formed focus groups, composed of interested citizens, organizations and agencies, and organized around different community development topics like affordable housing and youth and community services. Evening meetings were also convened at neighborhood facilities throughout the City.
According to 1990 census data, the median family income (MFI) for Visalia was $34,188, which reflects a nearly 76% increase from 1980 census data. Between 1980 and 1990 Visalia's population increased by 52%, with a steady growth rate of 4% each year since 1990, with a current population of 90,000. The population of Visalia can be characterized as young, with over 57% of the population under the age of 35. In terms of racial and ethnic representation, 67% of the City's population is White, 24% Hispanic, 6% Asian/Pacific Islander, 1% African American, and another 1% Native American. The 1990 census data also indicates that 17.6% of the City's population are below the poverty line.
According to data from the State of California, the current unemployment rate in Visalia is 10.3%. The major employers in Visalia Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) include governmental agencies, employing 26.6% of the workforce, the agricultural industry employs 25% of the workforce, and the services and retail industries employ 29% of the workforce.
Although Visalia is an affordable City, a changing and expanding population has resulted in many and varied housing needs and shortfalls in conventional methods of providing new housing opportunities. The City has determined that there is a need to increase the number of rental units, especially for larger families, and to preserve existing rental housing. Further, their is a need to assist potential homebuyers purchase their first homes, or to retain and preserve homes already owned.
Based upon a 1991 Housing Quality Survey, it has been determined that there are 29,206 housing units within the boundaries of the City, and 17,071 of these units are in areas targeted for assistance. The City estimates that approximately 50% of the units in targeted areas are in need of some kind of rehabilitation. The 1994 average sales price for a home was $111,108 and the average rent was $435. During the last 15 years, the number of housing units in the City has increased 39%, while the population increased 52%.
It is estimated that the majority of the City's low and moderate income families can only afford to purchase houses in the price range of $50,000 to $75,000. The number of affordable housing for sale falls short of demand, and the new housing that is developed is marketed to predominately middle and upper income families. The lack of newly developed affordable housing is also an issue for the renter population. Therefore the City has concluded that there is a great need to assist very low income homeowners (30% MFI), low income homeowners (31-50% MFI), and moderate income homeowners (51-80% MFI) in terms of housing cost burdens, over crowdedness, and substandard housing. For both large and small renter very low income families, housing cost burden, substandard housing and over crowdedness are also recognized by the City as great needs.
A 1993 study on the homeless conducted in the City of Visalia and Tulare County estimated that anywhere from 750 to 2,000 people were homeless. The City has reported in the Consolidated Plan that there are 1,072 homeless individuals in Visalia. Of this figure, 370 individuals are persons in homeless families, or 34% of the total homeless population. Statistics on the remainder of the homeless persons are as follows: 96 are homeless youths not in families (9% of the homeless population), and 606 are homeless adult individuals, or 57% of the total homeless population in Visalia.
Currently, there are four shelters operating in the City to serve homeless families and singles, representing 122 shelter beds. There is also one program that provides rental assistance, and homeless prevention grants to families and individuals that are threatened with homelessness. The City has indicated a great need for outreach assessment, emergency shelters, transitional shelters, permanent housing and permanent housing with supportive services for both homeless families and individuals.
The Tulare County Housing Authority (TCHA) owns and manages 200 affordable housing units in Visalia. The TCHA has ongoing programs to upgrade the physical and social environments of these units to ensure decent living conditions for the tenants. Many of these units are now over 20 years old but are being maintained in good physical condition. Besides affordable rental units, the TCHA also administers the Federal Section 8 program for rental certificates and vouchers. Currently there are 700 rent vouchers and certificates available for low income Visalia families and individuals. In addition, the TCHA has been involved in other public housing projects with the City of Visalia or other entities and 128 multi-family rental units have been produced. Finally, the City has worked with Visalians Interested in Affordable Housing (VIAH), a non-profit housing development organization, and 47 rental units and 64 owner-occupied units have been assisted with HOME funds.
Lack of affordable housing is a critical issue in Visalia. There are obstacles to the effective development of affordable housing which impact upon the need for such housing, including: opposition to the development of affordable housing by neighbors, the "red tape" associated with the use of public funds, time delays in approving plans and subdivisions, local zoning and building requirements, materials and labor costs, environmental and historic preservation reviews, and the lack of affordable construction financing.
There are no court orders, consent decrees, or HUD-imposed sanctions that affect the provision of fair housing remedies.
The City estimates that approximately 65% of the total housing stock may have potential lead-based paint hazards. The majority of these properties are located in the City's targeted, low income neighborhoods. All City administered housing programs include specific remedies to eliminate all lead-based paint hazards in assisted housing units, and information regarding this hazard is disseminated to the public via these programs and through a number of other health and service provider agencies.
Over the next five years, the City of Visalia projects that the need for emergency, transitional and permanent housing for homeless families and individuals will be a high priority, as is the need for public facilities like day care, youth and senior centers, parks, neighborhood centers, health facilities and parking facilities. Likewise, the City predicts that there will be a great need for youth, day care, substance abuse, health, crime awareness, employment training, and tenant/landlord counseling services. The City also has listed economic development initiatives as being a high priority over the next five years.
The need for affordable rental and owner housing options, and preservation of existing housing are the main housing priorities of Visalia for the next five years. In terms of community development priorities, public facilities projects, public service and economic development activities will be the focus for the subsequent five years.
Priorities for Affordable Housing The City has concluded that there is a shortage of affordable single-family housing and rental housing for very low, low income families. Further, a significant percentage of existing housing is substandard, and overcrowded. Therefore, activities which promote home ownership for the very low and low income families will be supported, as will the creation of affordable rental housing, and housing for large families.
Priorities for Homelessness Alleviation The number of homeless families and individuals in Visalia exceeds the City's current capacity to shelter and serve them. Accordingly, the City will continue to commit funds to at least maintain facilities and services currently being provided at consistent levels throughout the five years of this plan. In addition, as available levels of funds allow, the City will expand, upgrade and improve the facilities and operations.
Priorities for Community Development Needs The City has categorized the need for community centers, parks, playgrounds, and other public facilities that promote services for youth, recreation, health, neighborhoods, and seniors as a high priority. In terms of public services, highest priority for funding has been assigned to services for seniors, youths, substance abuse counseling, crime awareness, child care, health and employment training services. Historic preservation of residences and commercial buildings, and financing economic development initiatives to provide additional employment opportunities have also been given high priorities.
Under the Consolidated Plan, Visalia has made a commitment to try and effectively address the cause of many of the problems that lead to poverty and economic deprivation. Consequently the City has identified the following strategies to move families out of poverty:
Resources available to Visalia for housing and community development activities include CDBG and HOME funds, public housing grants, Section 8 subsidies, and Redevelopment Agency low-income housing set-aside funds.
The City of Visalia Community Redevelopment Agency (VCRA) is responsible for administering the City's CDBG and HOME grants, and for developing the Consolidated Plan. Other key public agencies that VCRA works with include the City's Planning and Building Department, the Tulare County Housing Authority, the Tulare County Social Services Department, Visalians Interested in Affordable Housing, Community Services and Employment Training, and Self-Help Enterprises.
Visalia's One Year Action Plan outlines the proposed use of $1,173,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, $293,000 in program income and $451,000 of Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) funds. Program income funds are generated from previously funded CDBG activities. These dollars will be targeted primarily to affordable housing activities, public facilities activities, and economic development projects.
The City plans to offer the types of assistance listed above to households throughout the City.
Visalia's Community Redevelopment Agency is the local governmental agency responsible for implementing the strategies contained in the Consolidated Plan, and for administering the City's CDBG and HOME grants.
During the current City fiscal year, Visalia hopes to rehabilitate 20 owner occupied units, rehabilitate 30 rental units, and assist 30 first time homebuyers.
MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.
MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.
MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.
MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.
TABLE (without Map) provides information about the project(s).