Dorit Gersh turned to the Monterey City Council to intercede on Aug. 4 after she and her neighbors received rent increase notices on July 28 from Mangold Property Management. She and her boyfriend were told their $1,550-a-month rent would go up by $75 starting Oct. 1.
She wrote to Mangold CEO Craig Coming for relief. “I told them this is cruel, this is the worst, worst time,” she told the council. “People are struggling.”
The city is working on plans to help renters both during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. Grant Leonard in the city’s housing office says the city is within a few weeks of rolling out a Covid-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program available to low-income renters who either live or work in Monterey, using approximately $800,000 this fiscal year from federal block grants. Another five-year program, stemming from the state’s Permanent Local Housing Allocation Grant, was approved by the council in July.
Councilmember Tyller Williamson says he will ask the council by Sept. 1 for a rent freeze, along with reanimating the city’s eviction moratorium, which lapsed May 31. Williamson and renters’ advocate Esther Malkin are inviting lawmakers to an online public forum on Aug. 23 under the banner of an initiative created by Malkin, #rentersvote, a plan to get renters in the region – two-thirds of Monterey residents are renters – to elect candidates who favor renter issues. “You can’t win without the renter vote,” Malkin says.
Gersh, who is disabled and unable to work, depends on her boyfriend’s income, which can cover the increase. Coming responded, telling Gersh renters can apply for relief. New renters would pay $1,800 for the same unit.