Registration for a local program that helps low-income seniors pay their rent opens Monday.
In August, the Santa Monica City Council voted to allocate $2 million to 400 seniors after a survey of elderly residents revealed that many were forgoing meals and medical care to afford rent. The city previously completed a trial version of the Preserving Our Diversity (POD) program that subsidized rent for 22 seniors.
POD allows the city to keep low-income residents housed at a fraction of what it costs to build affordable housing. The total budget of the program would fund three to four new affordable apartments, based on what it costs the Community Corporation of Santa Monica, the city’s largest provider of affordable housing, to build an apartment.
A person living alone who participates in POD will have a minimum monthly after-rent income for $700 and a two-person household will have $1,225 — enough to pay for basic necessities.
Seniors aged 65 or older who have lived in a Santa Monica rent-controlled apartment since before 2000 are eligible for the program. They must have an annual household income less than or equal to $36,550 for a one-person household or $41,800 for a two-person household.
Eligible applicants may register for an application online at santamonica.gov/pod or by calling the Santa Monica Housing Authority at (310) 458-8743 from Monday through Thursday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
All applications will be placed on a waitlist and selected by lottery 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 Nov. 6 at Virginia Avenue Park from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and at the Santa Monica Main Library from 6 to 8 p.m.
The pilot program began in November 2017 and concluded in January, although 17 remaining participants still receive cash assistance. Five seniors exited the program since 2017. Three started receiving housing vouchers, one moved to another city and another died.
The new phase of POD will provide different amounts of cash assistance to three groups of seniors and raise the eligibility age from 62 to 65, which aligns with federal entitlements like Medicare.
Out of a $2 million total budget, the program will allocate $700,000 to renters who only need up to $250 in subsidies, $1 million to those who need between $250 and $500, and $30,000 to those who need between $500 and $700. The program will serve between 248 and 436 seniors, depending on how many live alone or in two-person households.
An additional $160,000 will fund a limited-term housing specialist position and as-needed staff assistant hours.