DHS renters struggle with rising rent during the pandemic

DHS renters struggle with rising rent during the pandemic

Olivia Sandusky

For the last year, Jim Farley has rented his property in Desert Hot Springs.

The 87 year Veteran says a recent rent increase is forcing him to move out.

“I barely squeaked by paying what I agreed to pay, now I can’t afford it at all,” said Farley.

Farley qualified for the section 8 program, but says his new property owner says they won’t except section 8 tenants.

The action is legal, according to a recent court case that clarifies section 8 is not income, and is therefore not discrimination.

“I have to live on a very small social security,” said Farley.

Jim and other renters were also notified that besides a slight rent increase, they would be facing higher utility charges. Now his neighbor will pay an additional $500 a month, increasing her total by 37 percent.

“There’s just no way that’s going to happen. COVID’s already going on, my husband has missed five weeks of work because of it. It’s impossible to just up and move,” said Jody Pientka.

Utopia management, who manages the property, says the increase is to help the owner maintain costs of their property and complies with housing laws.

“We notify everybody, we’re not, as a management company, trying to make anybody homeless or whatever there issues are with their rent. We’re just enforcing what the owners asking of us to do,” said Gia Lyons with Utopia management.

The property manager says she is willing to work with the renters, but the tenants say they plan to leave.

“It’s very unfortunate because it seems as if none of them have a heart,” said Lyons.

California does have an eviction moratorium in place. The moratorium expires 90 days after the COVID emergency is lifted.


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