www.montereycountyweekly.com OCTOBER 19-25, 2023 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 13 Tenants of two farmworker apartment complexes, Tesoros Del Campo in Salinas and Vista Del Valle in Chualar, received a shock in August, when their landlord, the Housing Authority for the County of Monterey, sent out notices of potential rent increases of 400-500 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2024. In one example provided on a notice for Tesoros residents, a two-bedroom apartment going for $650 a month was proposed to cost $2,675 instead. Alarmed, the residents turned to Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo for help. “We have families to provide for and bills to pay during [these] hard times and an increase on the rent is not going to help us,” states a letter to Alejo, signed by 44 residents, who all work in, or are retired from, agriculture. They said many of them work only seasonally and would not be able to afford an increase, adding, “We do not want to lose our home.” Alejo forwarded their objections to HACM and to the federal agency that will ultimately decide on increases, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s loan and grant division, USDA Rural Development. “This has caused much stress and anxiety for these tenants,” Alejo said in a letter to a federal official on Sept. 8. While the notice was eye-popping, in reality increases will depend on household incomes, since all tenants of HACM pay no more than 30 percent of their adjusted income. HACM Executive Director Zulieka Boykin told the Authority’s Board of Commissioners on Sept. 25 that it’s possible some tenants will pay only $200 more, depending on income. HACM has “never charged the 30 percent” at the two complexes, Boykin said. “We have families making $100,000 a year but pay only $600- $700 a month in rent,” she said, adding that it’s created a situation that’s unfair to other tenants and puts a burden on HACM which depends on rents to cover maintenance and repairs. Another reason HACM is asking for increases is that the state made subsidies available to those complexes—but because the rent is so low that the subsidies have never been used. Because of that, HACM is in danger of losing those subsidies entirely. Alejo pointed out in his letter to the federal agency that the increases were above what’s allowed under California’s Tenant Protection Act, which dictates possible annual rent increases of 10 percent, or 5 percent plus cost of living, whichever is lower. However, subsidized housing for very low-, low- or moderate-income households by federal standards is exempt under that law. In addition, Alejo argued that HACM had held no meetings with tenants to explain “why the rents were being proposed to increase so dramatically” and asked that, at a minimum, any decision on an increase be postponed until HACM officials could meet collectively with residents, as well as individually. Boykin says a meeting was held with residents on Sept. 20, and that all tenants were offered one-on-one meetings if they requested one. Catch Up Rents could go up in farmworker apartments if the Housing Authority gets federal approval. By Pam Marino In a letter to County Supervisor Luis Alejo asking for his help, 44 residents at Tesoros Del Campo in Salinas wrote, “The affordable rent helped us to make a decent living.” NEWS “We do not want to lose our home.” DANIEL DREIFUSS The current agreement for Ambulance Services between the County of Monterey and American Medical Response is set to expire June 30, 2025. The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Agency is developing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for ambulance service for the County of Monterey Exclusive Operating Area (EOA) to begin on July 1, 2025. The EMS Agency is seeking feedback from members of the community, city and county officials, and the EMS system as a whole on the Draft RFP Scope of Work (SOW). The draft of the RFP SOW and a form to submit feedback are available via the EMS Agency’s website at www.mocoems.org. Public meetings are being held to provide additional opportunities to hear from our community. One of these meeting will take place on Wednesday November 8, 2023 from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM at 1441 Schilling Place, Salinas. Public comments closes on Friday, November 17, 2023. The EMS Agency looks forward to hearing from you. RELEASE OF DRAFT RFP SCOPE OF WORK (SOW) FOR PUBLIC COMMENT = FLEXIBILITY IRA QCD + CFMC “Giving through my IRA allowed me to support the causes I care about” – Leslie Mulford Leslie Mulford Fund of the CFMC Leslie used her IRA Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) to create a field of interest fund at the CFMC. Read her story: cfmco.org/Mulford The CFMC can help you use your IRA QCD to: • Grant to several nonprofits with one gift • Donate through Monterey County Gives! 11/9-12/31 • Give to or create a charitable fund (not including donor advised funds) Learn more: 831.375.9712 | cfmco.org/IRA You can use an IRA charitable distribution to benefit the nonprofits or causes of your choice.