Report: Almost 100 Vernon residents live in city-owned homes, get cut-rate rent

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A water tower over the City of Vernon, California.

Documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times show the nearly 100 residents of the city of Vernon live in city-owned homes and pay an average $260 a month in rent.

That the vast majority of Vernon's roughly 100 residents live in city-owned properties is an unusual arrangement and has long generated accusations that the city leaders manipulate their electorate.

It has been nearly 40 years since a new candidate was elected to serve on the Vernon City Council, reports the Times.

According to the Times, Vernon has paid nearly $4 million to maintain and refurbish the homes while taking in $472,000 in rent during the past five years. Some of the expenditures were for extensive renovation, including exterior improvements, installation of new heating and cooling systems, and kitchen remodelings.

The records show that the low rents have placed a burden on the city's finances, forcing officials to use general fund money to close the shortfall.

Vernon owns nearly all of the residential property within its borders, charging monthly rents as low as $120 for a one-bedroom apartment to $360 for a large house.

Mayor Hilario Gonzales, who earns $56,000 a year, pays $360 a month to live in a city-owned three-bedroom, ranch-style home. His son lives next door, paying $240 a month.

Vernon's City Council will vote on a new rental policy Tuesday that calls for rents to be based on a market value determined by independent analysis and states that, other than emergency personnel, no other applicants shall be granted special leasing priority.

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