A housing forum attracted seniors

Adam Pardee / Tribune

A housing forum attracted seniors to the Pacifica Community Center last week.

Pacifica Age Friendly Community Coalition presented a workshop for seniors on Thursday at the Pacifica Community Center to help them find affordable, subsidized or shared housing.

It was the first of what the group expects to continue in a future series. 

Roy Earnest, chairman of the coalition, Pacifica Resource Center Executive Director Anita Rees, and Stephanie Coy, Meals on Wheels coordinator from Pacifica Senior Services, explained the application process for affordable senior housing and offered practical tips on how to access the application system for subsidized apartments for which tenants in most cases pay no more than 30 percent of their monthly income.

The presentation covered shared housing and community resources for housing seekers.

The coalition is one of nine “age-friendly” community initiatives in San Mateo County and a member of AARP’s national networks. 

The Pacifica Resource Center and the Senior Center will work with seniors to find affordable senior housing. Clients are responsible for their own search but will find encouragement and resource information from PRC.

Earnest explained the Moving to Work program is a federally funded housing assistance program that provides rental subsidies known as the “housing choice voucher” for up to five years. Project-based vouchers are specifically to go to private housing units.

“Get organized,” Earnest said, telling the group to keep housing search documents in one place.

Earnest said questions to ask when calling properties include: “Is there a vacancy?” ‘What are the minimum and maximum income requirements?” He suggested keeping a record of contacts you’ve talked to and to check in monthly on waitlists. Earnest went over what documents will be required, which include a driver’s license and previous address history.

The median income for a family of four in San Mateo County, as defined by the state, is $149,600. That puts the income range qualifying for subsidized housing at $38,400 for extremely low income for one person, $43,850 for two people, $49,350 for three people, and $54,800 for four people.

That means the maximum affordable rent payment for subsidized studios and one-bedroom apartments ranges from $750 for a studio to $1,500 for a one bedroom. 

Earnest said low-income housing is for people with less than 80 percent of the area median income. Their portion of rent is 30 to 40 percent of their income. Affordable housing is for those whose income is below the median income level.

Rees said to contact the Pacifica Resource Center for help navigating online applications and housing eligibility documents — the phone number is (650) 738-7470 — but added that help will be limited. Enlist a volunteer to help with computer search efforts, Rees suggested. 

Coy presented the housing senior projects she has seen in Pacifica, Pacific Oaks, Oceanview and Casa Pacifica. She has been delivering Meals on Wheels to them and said all are good alternatives.

Rees went into the various kinds of eviction notices the seniors could receive from a three-day notice to pay rent to a 90-day notice to quit. Anyone with a Section 8 voucher could be given a 90-day notice. The landlord must offer good reasons to ask the tenant to leave in a subsidized program. For legal help, Rees suggested Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, at (650) 558-0915, as one place to get help.

Rees suggested family members and friends could help with additional income, moving or co-signing a rental agreement. Nonprofits and faith-based organizations can help with rentals and deposits, moving expenses and medical expenses. State and federal programs can help with affordable housing and low income housing.

Rees described the various programs where people can get assistance, which include Social Security, CalFresh, CalWorks, and the Employment Development Department. She said the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is designed to provide low-income seniors with access to locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs.

She gave three phone numbers for financial assistance: the Homelessness Prevention System, (408) 926-8885; the Emergency Assistance Network, (866) 896-3587; and Sacred Heart, for those impacted by COVID-19, at (408) 780-9134.

There are eight core agencies, including the PRC, that work with the Human Services Agency of San Mateo County to provide basic emergency and support services, including groceries, grocery programs, information on housing resources, shelter and other homeless services and more.

Earnest described HIP Housing’s shared housing program where you can rent a room in someone’s house. The flyers at the meeting covered both categories of people seeking housing and people offering housing as of November. HIP Housing is a nonprofit, affordable housing organization in San Mateo County. Call them at (650) 348-6660 or go to www.hiphousing.org.

Earnest said to network with your friends and family. Some affordable housing is only available by word of mouth, and there is the option of researching areas where rent is less expensive.

Jane Northrop has covered Pacifica for the Pacifica Tribune since 1996. She has won first place John Swett Awards from the California Teachers Association for her coverage of education.

(1) comment

John Kontrabecki

Hillside Meadows is a new housing development planned for the Linda Mar neighborhood that is designed as multi-generational housing. The idea is to keep extended families together and create private space for grand-parents with a one-bedroom Accessory Dwelling Unit as part of every home. Pacificans will be able to buy a 3 bedroom or 4 bedroom home plus the ADU so they can care for their entire family in one home. Hillside Meadows is to be located next to Shamrock Ranch on Higgins Way. Support multi-generational housing in Pacifica.

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