Del Mar council votes to continue rent subsidies for four low-income tenants

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

Del Mar City Council members approved a proposal on March 6 to keep four low-income tenants in their homes by continuing a rental assistance program that they had previously decided to terminate.

“We’ve come up with what we think is a compromise proposal that helps achieve some of the city’s goals and also allows the programs to continue over the longer term and naturally phase out through attrition,” City Manager Ashley Jones said.

The program has been providing rent subsidies to four Del Mar tenants with incomes of $17,000 a year or less. But almost two years ago, the city announced that it no longer had the revenue from developer fees to sustain the $94,400 annual cost for the rent subsidies.

The council originally planned on terminating the program in June 2022, before granting an extension to this June. But the city did not make much progress in securing alternative housing units for the four tenants after consulting a county social worker.

“What the impact is, looming over them, is displacement from homes and a community that they have lived in for decades,” said Bob Gans, president of Del Mar Community Connections.

The basic framework of the new proposal has the city and the nonprofit Del Mar Community Connections, which manages the program, splitting the funding to keep all four tenants in their units as long as they are eligible. The program will no longer take new applicants.

The city and Del Mar Community Connections will work out the specific terms of the agreement, which the council would have to approve before July 1.

Dave Ralph, one of the four tenants in the rental assistance program, told council members during public comment that he would have few options if he had to leave his current address. After a car crash left him with physical and neurological disabilities, he has relied on Del Mar Community Connections and his other friends in the area to help him with his day-to-day needs.

“All the people I know at this point in life are here,” said Ralph, 70.

Tracy Mull has lived in Del Mar with her 17-year-old son through the rental assistance program.

“Without this program, we could not stay housed,” Mull said.

Several residents contacted the city to give their support for the proposal to continue helping the four remaining tenants.

“Del Mar Community Connections mission is our community’s safety net,” Felise Levine, a past DMCC president, wrote in an email to the city. “Their proposal offers a collaborative partnership with City Council and community donors to provide this safety net for the remaining four participants in the Rental Assistance program as the program terminates. I believe this is what the ‘Del Mar way’ looks like.”