It may not be what frustrated Huntington Beach senior mobile home residents want, but it could provide relief for the extremely low-income among them. For now.
The Huntington Beach City Council on Tuesday night unanimously voted to approve and authorize the formation of a tenant-based rental assistance program for mobile home residents.
The city already operates such a program for individuals and families that are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The new program will be funded using $391,654 of unspent HOME funds through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“I know this isn’t a panacea to the rental increases that our mobile home folks have been seeking, but it does potentially buy us some time for those with extreme need that are going to be out in the street with rental increases,” Councilman Dan Kalmick said.
In a presentation, Huntington Beach community development director Ursula Luna-Reynosa estimated the program would provide about $1,100 of monthly assistance to extremely low-income senior mobile home residents. It could assist up to 30 households for a year, but its availability beyond that is unknown.
Those given preference for the program are veterans, people who are in an extremely low-income bracket (30% or less of the area median income) and those paying 50% or more of their income for their space rent.
For a household of one, extremely low-income would be those making up to $28,500. For a household of two, that number would be up to $32,550.
City staff plans to accept applications for four weeks, Luna-Reynosa said, and will work with the senior center on outreach. The initial eligibility list will be determined via lottery.
“I think we’re all in agreement that this is not enough,” Councilwoman Kim Carr said. “We definitely have to do more, but we felt like we had an opportunity to utilize funds that may not have been utilized into this.”
Senior mobile home residents who have been feeling the pinch as their rents have been raised are pushing for a rental stabilization ordinance carveout of Section 803 of the city charter that would apply for only mobile home residents.
The Mobile Home Advisory Board voted 5-4 in April to send a carveout to the council for review, but the council did not move the idea forward. Proponents now plan to seek signatures to get a carveout on the ballot in 2024.
Carol Rohr, the Skandia Mobile Country Club HOA president and H.B. Mobile Home Resident Coalition president, called Tuesday’s approval “a Band-aid.”
“While I and many members of my HOA and the coalition feel that it is a good first step in dealing with the injustices we face from predatory park owners, it is still a token attempt to offset the space rent spiking going on in our mobile home community,” Rohr said during public comments to the council on Tuesday night. “This assistance program must be guaranteed for at least the next two years until a city charter amendment can be voted in and real protections put in place to guard our interests in 2024. Whether this program needs to be adopted for a longer period of time will depend upon the outcome of our planned initiative.”
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Matt Szabo is a sports reporter for the Daily Pilot. A Southern California native and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo graduate, he has been covering sports for L.A. Times Community News since 2006, most extensively water polo and tennis. (714) 966-4614