By Mike Soloff, SMRR Executive Committee member and Housing Commissioner
Can you imagine trying to survive on your own in Santa Monica if, after paying your rent and utilities, you had $20 left each day for every other expense? Or a family of four with $30?
Thousands of Santa Monicans do not have to imagine this because that is exactly how they live right now, according to HUD. They are in over 4,000 households that earn 30% or less of Area Median Income ($19,450 a year for a family of four, or less than $13,600 for a single person), and pay more than half for rent and utilities. About 2000 more renter households earning $34,400 or less also pay more than half for rent and utilities. The Housing Commission recommends that our first priority should be to assist these severely rent burdened neighbors to stay in their homes. It is right, and likely the most cost-effective way of preserving our eroding economic diversity. City staff is developing a rent-subsidy pilot program for this purpose. I urge SMRR members to raise their voices in support of funding for a full-scale program if the pilot succeeds.