Westminster mobile home residents ask city for help with rising rents, council members say more assistance is needed
PUBLISHED: August 16, 2019 at 11:16 am | UPDATED: August 16, 2019 at 3:55 pm
Westminster residents are the latest to ask city leaders to step in with safeguards against rising rents at some of the city’s 17 mobile home parks.
A trifecta of heated issues, including rents, converged Wednesday, Aug. 14, at the Westminster City Hall – resulting in hundreds of demonstrators and a six-hour-plus council meeting that continued past 1 a.m. The agenda also included a surprisingly divisive vote on the 2020 Tet Parade organizerand dozens of immigration advocates showed up to demand that Westminster revise its anti-sanctuary stance.
A total of 91 people signed up to speak. Most were there to urge safeguards against ever-rising rents at some of Westminster’s 17 mobile home parks.
“We are poor – that’s why we live in mobile homes,” Sharon Haney told the elected leaders Wednesday as several residents spoke during the City Council meeting asking for action. “Many of us are seniors on fixed incomes.”
Her landlord increased rents last year by 5.5% and tacked on another $45 per month for services such as trash disposal that used to be covered, she said.
Others complained that their landlords had raised rents in recent years by as much as 20%, well above the cost of living increases provided in their Social Security checks. Without rent control, some said elderly residents could wind up homeless.
In recent months, elected leaders in Anaheim and Fullerton have also heard pleas from mobile home park residents looking for limitations on increasing rents. Some sort of rent control was a no-go for Westminster officials, as it was in other cities, but council members agreed more could be done to help with assistance programs.Several residents noted to the council members at Wednesday’s meeting that, unlike apartment dwellers, mobile home dwellers are responsible for the upkeep of their property. “Basically, we are renting a slab of concrete,” a man said.
But park owners pointed out they pay for the maintenance of the infrastructure. Their charges are reasonable compared to apartment rents and home prices in the area, landlords argued.
“Mobile home parks are mini-cities with streets, lights, sewage and all those other amenities,” said Peter Herzog, a representative for the Manufactured Housing Educational Trust. “Those costs keep going up.”
One landlord passionately told council members that rent control would force private citizens to bankroll their tenants. “So, I’ve got to take money from my children and grandchildren to subsidize these people?” he said. “I don’t think so.”
Property manager Lisa Sibel proposed: “Allow park owners and residents the ability to continue to resolve issues
Deane Sargent and PMC Financial Services have been helping mobile home park resident groups and cooperatives to organize and find financing to buy their parks for over 20 years.