Huntington Beach

Rental help for mobile home seniors is approved by council

HUNTINGTON BEACH CIVIC CENTER (Orange County Tribune photo).

By Huw Pickering/Orange County Tribune

The Huntington Beach City Council unanimously approved a rental assistance program for senior mobile home owners at Tuesday’s meeting. An estimated $1,100 dollars a month will be allocated to 30 households who are at risk of losing their homes as rents continue to increase.

Mobile home owners over the age of 62 who pay at least 50 percent of their income for rent of the space where their home is located will be the beneficiaries of this legislation. The passage of the program came after the council directed its staff to research other rental assistance programs throughout the country.

Some mobile home owners in Surf City, many of whom have long been used to paying 30 percent of their income for space rent, have seen their costs rise dramatically in the last few years. With half their income going directly to maintaining the plot of land where their mobile home lies, a number of these people find themselves on the brink of homelessness.

At the council meeting, one such mobile home owner, long-termHuntington Beach resident Tim Geddes, made clear his belief that the responsibility to fix this situation lies with the council.

“Any council member who does not pass this legislation,” Geddes said, “just does not hold the best interest of this city’s residents at heart, and should not receive their votes.”

Councilmember Dan Kalmick perceives other issues at play when it comes to these senior mobile home owners.

The parks in which these mobile homes are located were once held in trust by various land-owning families. As members of these families die, the park properties are sold, and therefore their property taxes are reevaluated.

Years ago, a Huntington Beach park could be assessed as worth a few hundred thousand dollars, but today that assessment is often in the millions.

“What we’re running into is that the market hasn’t adjusted in 30, 40, 50 years, and when it does, it’s a shock,” Kalmick said. “A mild hardship for other homeowners is a super hardship for these people.”

To alleviate that hardship, Kalmick and others have proposed another piece of legislation in addition to rental assistance. In 2024, they hope to place a rent stabilization ordinance on the ballot, which would allow Huntington Beach’s local government to regulate mobile home rents.

Low-income homeowners, particularly seniors, have been fighting to cap rents since 2002, when a local ordinance banned any such controls from being instated. If petitioners can gather at least 13,352 valid signatures –– or 10 percent of the city’s registered voters –they will have a chance to take greater control over how much they pay to live in the city.

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