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Renters Worry Funding Woes Could Take Their Homes

Seal Beach staff will know by Dec. 17 if the state will allow the Orange County Housing Authority to continue funding rental assistance for city mobile home park.

Don Cecil is worried.

The 53-year-old Seal Beach resident said he's living month-to-month on disability checks after suffering from serious heart problems.

A former tile-setter, Cecil relies on a city rental subsidy to keep a roof over his head.

But soon the program's funding could dry up.

“I wouldn’t have enough to live on,” Cecil said Tuesday at meeting of the board of directors of Seal Beach Shores, a mobile home park run as a Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation at the north end of town.

Cecil is only one of a number of Seal Beach mobile home park residents facing an uncertain future as state financial decisions put local housing assistance funds in jeopardy.

When the state officially dissolved redevelopment agencies in every city this year, it put a rental assistance program for Seal Beach Shores in limbo.

At Tuesday’s meeting residents heard an update from city officials about Seal Beach's efforts to keep the program going.

City Councilman Gordon Shanks said the decision to remove redevelopment agencies has tossed so many cities into turmoil.

“In my 44 years in dealing with city county and state government I have never seen anything so screwed and messed up as this redevelopment agency cancellation has been,” Shanks said to the residents.

Every year since 2000, the now-defunct Seal Beach Redevelopment agency set aside $180,000 annually to help Seal Beach Shores provide rental subsidies to residents.

According to Victoria L. Beatley, city director of finance, state law required redevelopment agencies spend a portion of property tax income revenue on housing assistance and aid to low and moderate-income residents.

Designed to improve blight in the community and provide affordable housing, redevelopment agencies were abolished this year thanks to a state law and court ruling, which effectively transferred more than a billion dollars from city redevelopment agencies back into state coffers.

Cities such as Seal Beach appointed their city councils to act as successor agencies in a bid to retain redevelopment funding, but the state controls how that money may be spent, said Beatley.

Successor agencies have had to apply for the money, and, this year, the state has twice rejected applications from Seal Beach to fund the $180,000 subsidy for Seal Beach Shores.

Beatley said city staffers went to Sacramento last Monday to meet with state Department of Finance representatives in hopes of winning support for the program, which is now administered by The Orange County Housing Authority.

Though Seal Beach will not find out if the state will approve funding for the rental assistance program until Dec. 17, staffers are “guardedly optimistic” about what the state will do, Beatley said. 

And if the state doesn't approve the funding, a “legal challenge” is possible, said Beatley. A number of cities had challenged the state over the loss of their redevelopment money, she added.

Shanks, the councilman who represents the mobile home park, said he believes there’s “a very good chance” the money for the program will be approved.

Some residents said they thought Shanks was being overly optimistic.

Lori Welz, a Seal Beach Shores resident, said she thinks the councilman might have said he thinks the funding will be approved in order to keep residents calm.

She said she’s not so sure about the fate of the program.

The end of the rental assistance program would be “really unhealthy for our park,” added Welz.

“We have some old people … (and others) who are really literally on food stamps and don’t have another option,” Welz said. 

truthteller December 06, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Why didnt anybody keep records?not thr city of seal beach..not seal beach trailer park..not their managment company..J and H....not even the oversite agency RSG.that is the reason we have been denied.lot and lots of money thrown into a black hole.

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