Santa Monica is helping seniors pay rent-- Now LA might too

Kaye continues to receive a monthly rental subsidy from the city of Santa Monica as part of a pilot program to help seniors stay in their homes. (Amita Sharma/CA Dream)
Kaye continues to receive a monthly rental subsidy from the city of Santa Monica as part of a pilot program to help seniors stay in their homes. (Amita Sharma/CA Dream)
(Amita Sharma/CA Dream)

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L.A.'s rising housing costs can hit seniors on a fixed income particularly hard.

Now the City Council is considering a pilot program to help seniors pay rent so they don't become homeless.

Santa Monica started a similar pilot in 2017, called Preserving Our Diversity (POD), giving elderly residents money to help pay for housing. Before the pilot started, they asked seniors how much money they had leftover after rent, and it wasn't a lot.

"We were quite surprised to find these senior households were struggling to meet all their other basic needs with $225 a month," Jim Kemper is Santa Monica's Housing Program Manager. 

Even in rent-stabilized housing, Kemper says some seniors on a fixed income struggle to afford basics like food and medication.

Now Santa Monica gives qualifying seniors several hundred dollars a month.

"It removed a huge part of anxiousness they had on a daily, weekly, monthly basis about what bills to pay and how they're gonna pay them."

Kemper says keeping these seniors in their current homes is also cheaper than having to build new affordable housing for them if they were to become homeless.

Santa Monica is now working to expand their program to help around 250 to 400 senior households.

LA's proposal was approved by city council committee Wednesday, and now needs full council approval so the details of the program can be decided.