While more than 60 Glendora tenants face evictions following the demise of a state-funded Tenant Based Rental Assistance program, one Glendora resident is fighting to keep her rental subsidy and prevent other low-income residents also receiving government assistance from losing their homes.
Sharon Green, 70, has filed a claim against the City, arguing that the City has a legal obligation to continue providing rental subsidies to her and 65 other low- to very low-income, mostly senior residents based on the 2012 appellate court decision that ruled in her favor. Still, City officials refuse to admit any involvement in Green’s case, nor any obligation to provide rental subsidies following the demise of its major funding source.
City Manager Chris Jeffers said the city’s rental subsidies were funded solely under the city’s now defunct Redevelopment Agency until two years ago when the city began using the state-funded HOME grant to cover rental subsidies. But the City will exhaust all funding from the grant by the end of June, according to Jeffers. The next grant cycle begins in August and funding for all 66 rental subsidies from June until August would come out of the city’s general fund.
“We’re not in position to use general fund money, especially when we have had to cut $1 million from all of our city departments,” said Jeffers.
Furthermore, funding from the Department of Housing and Çommunity Development is diminishing every year, and city officials say the chances of receiving another grant to pay for the 66 rental subsidies are grim.
The next grant cycle is expected to be even more competitive and brick and mortar projects tend to gain preference over rental subsidies because they prove to be more stable, said Jeffers.
“What’s the upside to have the general fund pay for this, and then try to work with these people if we’re not successful in obtaining the grant?” said Jeffers. “I think the council feels the best, most humane solution is to work with residents from now until June to find other viable housing options.”
Green, who has long been embroiled in contentious legal battles with Anchor Pacifica management and the City of Glendora over what she claimed was a wrongful eviction from her apartment at Heritage Oaks in 2010, says the City has a preexisting obligation to provide rental subsidies to low income residents, despite less avenues of funding.
According to Jolene Larimore, Green’s attorney, an agreement between the City’s Redevelopment Agency and the developer of Heritage Oaks senior apartments ensured that 47 units at Heritage Oaks would be made affordable for qualified low-income residents.
“We think the original agreement binds [the City] to keep those 47 units affordable, whether they have to lower the rent so these people can afford it, or they pay a subsidy,” said Larimore. “I just can’t believe they’re going to kick these people out in the street.”
Larimore cites the appellate ruling, which states Green had a legitimate entitlement to her lease and the rental subsidies based on “a governmentally conferred benefit that is rooted in a legal obligation."
City officials have always stood on the premise that the city and its former redevelopment agency were never involved in Green’s case, and any agreements made by its former redevelopment agency were dissolved once Gov. Jerry Brown terminated redevelopment agencies last year.
Larimore rejects city claims that the demise of redevelopment agencies or less available state funding are grounds to cut off government assistance to affordable housing.
“That’s not an excuse because they had an opportunity to name preexisting obligations before the RDA’s were terminated and they didn’t name Heritage Oaks as a pre-existing obligation,” said Larimore. “I just don’t see any effort from the city to want help these residents. They don't even want to try to pursue any funding that would help these people.”
Green and her supporters are encouraging Glendora residents to reach out to the city council and their local representatives to reinstate rental subsidies for the city’s low and very low-income residents.
Still, city officials say rental subsidies in Glendora have run their course.
“If what [Green and her lawyer] are arguing is that they have a lifetime entitlement to taxpayer housing subsidy, then we would humbly disagree,” said Jeffers.