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Struggling Rent Control Seniors Can Register for Cash Assistance Next Month

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By Jorge Casuso

October 28, 2019 -- Rent-burdened Santa Monica seniors can begin registering for financial assistance next month under an expanded City funded program that helps cover their basic needs.

Starting November 4, the City will accept registrations for the Preserving Our Diversity (POD) pilot program that helps impoverished seniors who after decades living in rent-controlled apartments can no longer afford to pay the rent.

Earlier this year, the City Council boosted funding for the program from an initial $200,000 a year in 2017 that assisted some two dozen seniors to $2 million that will help between 250 and 400 seniors, City officials said.

The program provides cash assistance to those who are at least 65 years old and have lived in a Santa Monica rent-controlled apartment since before January 1, 2000.

To qualify, applicants must have an annual household income of no more than $36,550 for a one-person household or $41,800 for a two-person household.

The program aims to help low-income seniors "achieve a minimum amount of monthly after-rent income of $700 for a one-person household or $1,225 for a two-person household," City officials said.

When the program was approved, City officials estimated there were 6,000 Santa Monica households that were so “rent burdened” they were in jeopardy of eviction ("Santa Monica Council Approves Experiment in 'Last Resort' Subsidies for Elderly Poor Renters," July 28, 2017).

After registration, those who meet the eligibility criteria will receive an application from the City, officials said.

"All applications submitted to the City will be placed on a wait list," officials said. "Applicants will then be selected by lotteries for enrollment on a rolling basis over the next year."

The City will hold regular workshops to help with the registration and application process.

The first two will be held on November 6, 2019 in Virginia Avenue Park from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and in the Santa Monica Main Library from 6 to 8 p.m.

Those interested can register for an application (in English and Spanish) online via computer, tablet, or smartphone, through a secure website at

They can also call the Santa Monica Housing Authority (SMHA) at (310) 458-8743, Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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