Elderly residents of mobile home parks in Huntington Beach may be eligible for temporary monthly relief from housing payments soon, after city councilors unanimously approved a rental assistance program Sept. 6.
“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 that are in extreme need,” Councilman Dan Kalmick said at the council meeting.
Although the city already has other governmental programs offering rental assistance, this one will specifically target struggling senior mobile home residents over the age of 62.
The program will be able to help 30 households per year with about $390,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mobile homeowners will still have to pay their space rent—the cost to rent a plot of land on which a mobile home sits—and will be reimbursed partially for up to 2 years through this program. After the first year, recipients’ eligibility will be re-evaluated to determine if they should receive assistance for another year.
The average space rent in the city is $1,839 monthly. Eligible residents will be able to receive up to $1,100 each month for rent payments.
To be eligible for the program, a mobile homeowner has to meet the following requirements.
- Living in a mobile home for most of the year.
- Renting a space for at least one year before applying for the program.
- Earning a household income of $47,450 or less, without receiving any other governmental rent assistance.
Veterans and low-income residents making $28,500 or less or paying over half of their income for space rent are given preference.
While voting yes for the program, Councilwoman Kim Carr raised concerns about the rigidness of its eligibility requirements.
“To live in Huntington Beach, it’s incredibly expensive. … The guidelines [to receive funds through the program] are so restrictive,” she said during the meeting.
Carol Rhor, president of the Huntington Beach Mobile Home Residents Coalition, told The Epoch Times the program is “a good first step in dealing with the injustices we face from predatory park owners,” but it is not enough to offset the spiking rent for more people.
“There are many residents who may not qualify for this assistance program but who are still at risk [of missing payments],” she said.
For several months, some residents have been pushing the city for a rent stabilization ordinance to put a limit on how much mobile home park owners can raise the space rent.
They said the more expensive the rent, the more their mobile homes devalue.
Ada Hand, a member of the coalition, told The Epoch Times she supports the program “because it will help a few people,” but it is not as helpful as rent stabilizing measures.
“All across the state [rent stabilization ordinances] are being approved by communities who care for their citizens,” she said. “Huntington Beach is not one of them.”