Antioch officials recently committed to provide more than $1 million in rent subsidies over the next 10 years from a low-income housing fund to homeowners in the Vista Diablo Mobile Home Estates. The subsidies are the continuation of a program that has paid another $1 million in assistance over the last decade.
The subsidy goes toward the rent the homeowners pay to the owners of the park, which is a gated community with amenities such as a swimming pool, spa and clubhouse. The subsidy is available to residents whose annual income is $70,000 or less.
Councilman Arne Simonsen explained via e-mail why city officials have wanted to help the residents in this seniors-only mobile home park.
The subsidy would not be needed if the owners of this mobile home park had reasonable ground rent; but such is not the case, said Simonsen. They charge about 50 percent more than other mobile home parks, and don't include water and garbage collection in the rent (others do). This has resulted in the value of a mobile home in the park being significantly reduced, compared to an identical mobile home in any other mobile home park.
One of the major changes we made was to include assets in the calculation for eligibility of current and future residents and require it to be updated every two years. Ultimately, the subsidy will go away as the redevelopment districts come to an end.
At the April 8 City Council meeting, the monthly subsidy was bumped up to $65 per home with as much as 5 percent more tacked on each year, depending on the inflation rate, and the subsidy was extended for another 10 years.
Residents in the mobile home park earning as much as 120 percent of the Bay Area median income qualify for the subsidy. That equates to single residents making as much as $70,440 per year and couples earning up to $80,400 annually.
Most of the Vista Diablo residents are earning in the range of 50 to 80 percent of the median income, according to a city staff report. That equates to $29,350-46,350 for a single homeowner and $33,500-$53,000 for a couple.
In an effort to rein in the Vista Diablo subsidy in the future, new residents moving into the park will qualify for it if they earn no more than 100 percent of the median income.
In 2012, new residents qualify if they make no more than 80 percent of the median.
The city fund is designed to improve, increase or preserve affordable housing for low and moderate income persons, the staff report states. Housing types include for sale homes, rental property, housing rehabilitation and mobile homes. Continuing the rent subsidy will make fewer funds to be available for other affordable housing programs and projects creating new affordable housing stock.
At the April 8 council meeting, several Vista Diablo residents said the subsidy is needed because they are living on fixed incomes at the same time that expenses are increasing, especially medical care.
The extra money they would be getting, the $65 per month, may make the difference between getting the medications or food, said Lola Buck, president of the Vista Diablo Homeowners Association.
Allen Ives said that although most mobile home residents move in as couples, half of them now live alone due to the death of a spouse. As a result, they lose a portion of their income at the same time that the rents in the mobile home park increase by 6 percent per year.
We don't ask too much of government, said Ives. This is a good agreement for Antioch. It keeps the mobile home mode of living a viable alternative in Antioch.
Freda Hargrove told the council that her rent would be going up to $895 per month in May from the $759 she had been paying. She said she would like to move away but can't because she would only get $25,000 for the $50,000 mobile home she bought when she moved in.
Where am I going to go? she asked the council. They forced me to sign a lease, which I did a month ago. I don't know what to do now. I can't afford to rent or go someplace else. It's a real bad situation.
The council members weren't able to help Hargrove with her particular situation, but are glad they've been able to help the Vista Diablo residents generally. Mayor Don Freitas said that by 2018 the City Council will have made a 2.2 to 2.3 million dollar contribution to keep the seniors living in dignity.