Rent increase sends mobile-home park residents through roof 

Residents at a mobile home park in Daly City fighting a recent rent hike are seeking assistance from city officials.

But with the city running on a bare-bones budget, city officials say there is little they can do to help.

Rent at Franciscan Park increased 4 percent April 1, the first increase since July 2009, management officials said.

Before the rent increase, a survey was sent to the park’s 501 homes with options including rent increases or cuts to guard service. Sixty-two people filled out the informal survey and 33 voted for the 4 percent monthly increase, which included no reduction in guard services, according to the Franciscan Housing Corp.

Despite the survey, however, the rent increase has been met with protests from residents, some of whom have petitioned City Council members to intervene. Ricci Rubio, a 30-year park resident, said the entire park should have been able to formally vote on the increase. He said the “informal survey” filled out by 62 of 501 homes didn’t have any merit.

The park’s voting board didn’t have a legal obligation to put the recent increase to a vote, but wanted input from residents, said Hunter Johnson, the president and CEO of LINC Housing. LINC Housing, a Long Beach-based nonprofit, purchased most of the 68-acre park in 2002. Franciscan Park LLC now owns the mobile home facility, with LINC providing asset management services, Johnson said.

Residents said at least 14 people are falling behind on rent. One resident, Melanie Blandino, was served with a 90-day eviction notice March 7 after the unemployed single mother of two fell behind on her then-monthly rent of $835.

“I just kept falling behind,” said Blandino, 41, who receives $700 a month and $428 in food stamps from San Mateo County. “It’s hard to get a job out there.” Blandino’s rent is now $868.

This is not the first time residents have sought help from the city. After a $50 increase in 2009, then-Mayor Sal Torres proposed that the City Council waive the park’s annual operating fee of about $33,000, with the possibility of accrued interest being deposited into a residential fund. The fund has been created, but it’s currently empty, Torres said.

“Its not that we don’t want to help the residents, it’s that we can’t,” said Torres, who’s now vice mayor. “We’re asking city employees not to take pay raises.”

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