Orange Cove needs 458 houses, apartments by 2031

The city of Orange Cove readies its 2023-2031 Housing Element for state certification, expects to accommodate 458 housing units within that time

Construction equipment is set up north of Sumner Avenue and west of Anchor Avenue in Orange Cove, ready to work on infrastructure for a new housing development being built by Yanez Construction, April 15, 2024. (Serena Bettis)
Serena Bettis
Published May 26, 2024  • 
1:00 pm

ORANGE COVE – The city of Orange Cove’s Housing Element update offers residents, city officials and developers a glimpse into how Orange Cove stacks up against other Fresno County cities when it comes to housing availability and needs.

Now available online for the public to view, the latest revision of the 2023-2031 Housing Element is close to being certified by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), city officials said at a recent Orange Cove City Council meeting. Orange Cove, along with most Fresno County cities, partnered with the Fresno Council of Governments (Fresno COG) to complete the housing element. 

According to the Fresno Multi-Jurisdictional Housing Element that Orange Cove is a part of, the housing plan “sets forth a comprehensive strategy and program of actions to address housing issues identified within the participating jurisdictions in Fresno County.” 

According to the Orange Cove housing element, the Fresno COG region must collectively plan to accommodate 58,298 units in the 2023-2031 cycle of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), with Orange Cove being responsible for 458 housing units. Divided between income levels, Orange Cove must be able to accommodate 64 units for very low income households, 47 units for low income households, 84 units for moderate income households and 263 units for above moderate income households. 

How it works

While cities have a state mandate to update their housing elements every eight years, they also serve as important city planning tools that guide residential development and identify barriers to housing within the community. A key component of the housing element is the RHNA, which identifies the number of housing units an area should have to accommodate its current population and projected growth. 

To develop the RHNA, the HCD hands down its determination of housing needs in a specific area to the region’s council of governments — in this case, Fresno COG. Next, Fresno COG creates a methodology for allocating its RHNA throughout the region, taking into account the population, size and needs of each city within its jurisdiction.

The purpose of the housing element is to then demonstrate to the state how a local jurisdiction will allow for those housing units to be developed in its city. Cities do this by identifying vacant land suitable for development, ensuring the land has the appropriate zoning designation and facilitating the development of a wide range of housing types, including low and high density housing and housing built for various income levels.

Taking action

In addition to identifying sites where those 458 housing units could be developed, the housing element also assesses Orange Cove’s current housing availability and conditions. The housing needs assessment conducted for the housing element found that of all Orange Cove households, more than half are renters, a majority identify as Hispanic or Latino of any race and more than one-third work in agriculture. 

According to the assessment, the average number of people per household is 3.8 in Orange Cove compared to 3.1 county-wide, the city has a higher rate of household overcrowding for renters and homeowners compared to the county as a whole and the city has a higher rate of large households with five or more members at 32.1% than Fresno County as a whole at 18.1%. Orange Cove also had the lowest vacancy rate in the county at 2% in 2022, down significantly from 7.3% in 2010.

The median household income in Orange Cove in 2020 was the lowest in the county at $25,587 compared to the county-wide median income of $57,109. In 2022, 10.9% of city residents were unemployed, and the city has an over-representation of very-low income families  — meaning their income is 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) or less — at 28.4%. 

The city uses these demographic findings to better inform its housing policies and develop programs that can help the city meet the community’s specific needs. For example, because the needs assessment found that 53.9% of all Orange Cove households overpay for housing, the city plans to implement at least four programs that can help increase the supply of “deeply affordable housing.” 

One program that aims to address this need is an effort to incentivize and support the development of affordable housing units in Orange Cove. According to the housing element, the city plans to do this by seeking partnerships with other agencies and housing developers and meet at least every other year in order to pursue “viable opportunities for providing affordable housing.” The program’s objective is to expand the city’s affordable housing inventory by 111 units before 2031.

Another program would increase the availability of information about rental assistance programs that residents are eligible for. To do this, the Fresno Housing Authority would help Orange Cove include information on the city’s website that explains the work the Housing Authority does, and the city would continue to refer interested households to the Housing Authority. 

The entire housing element identifies even more constraints to affordable housing development and sets forward more than 20 programs that the city must implement over the next eight years to address these constraints. 

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter