Commuters at sunset in downtown Fresno. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
When I was 7, my mom and I were displaced from our two-bedroom apartment in Fresno. With nowhere else to go, we bounced from shelter to shelter, feelings of shame, hopelessness and helplessness following us wherever we went. I spent most of my young life thinking something was wrong with us. The truth is that we were among millions of Californians who have lost their homes across the state, and not just in its most notoriously expensive cities. As skyrocketing housing costs in Los Angeles and the Bay Area push more people into outlying regions, those places have increasingly experienced the same pressures. Communities such as Fresno, once known as a relatively affordable oasis in a costly state, are the newest epicenters of California’s housing crisis. One study found that Fresno endured the fastest rent growth of any major city nationwide in 2021, 28%.
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