Project HomeBy Susie Steimle

FOSTER CITY (KPIX 5) — Elderly tenants living in affordable housing in Foster City were at risk of being homeless by the end of this year, to keep them housed the city is now paying part of their rent.

On January 1, Corrine Warren received the news that her mother was going to have to move out of her home of more than 30 years.

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“It was a big surprise to my mom and to us because we had no idea that, you know, that her lease would ever expire,” Warren said.

Foster’s Landing was Warren’s first stable home and she had hoped it would be her mother’s last.

“We were pretty much homeless for a while before Foster’s Landing. We lived, you know, in somebody’s bedroom or somebody’s garage,” Warren said.,

Warren’s mother lives in a BMR or below market rate unit, her brother lives there too, without this rare affordable housing she worries they could end up back on the street.

“They’re low income. They’re both living off of social security, they both have disabilities and it was just going to be impossible,” she said.

There are 74 BMRs in Foster’s Landing. The tenants found out last year that the below market rate status was expiring and that these units would be converted to market rate apartments, so instead of paying 30% of her income, or $700 a month, Warren’s mother would be required to pay more than $3,000 a month.

“We have residents who are paying $300 or $400, or even under $300. So where are those folks going to go? You’re talking about residents in their 80s and some are 90 years old,” said former Foster City Mayor and current City Councilmember Sam Hindi.

Hindi has been tracking the expiration of these BMRs and looking for a solution. The city offered one this month.

“This city will be putting the money in, we are invested in making sure that our residents are taken care of,” Hindi said.

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Foster City will pay Essex, the property management company, up to $400,000 from its affordable housing fund to buy these tenants some time.

“The fact that it was extended was a tremendous relief,” Warren said.

While Warren says she’s grateful for the extension, she realizes it is just a band-aid.

“Even though we were really happy with the decision that the Foster City made to do the extension, it is a temporary solution, so we still have, you know, a long road ahead of us, a lot of work to do,” Warren said.

To qualify for most affordable housing programs tenants have to meet certain income thresholds. Warren’s mother and brother collectively make $22,000 a year. $36,550 a year is considered extremely low income in San Mateo. Most programs won’t take a tenant unless they’re making more than that amount.

“We want them to be aware that no matter what solution we are doing, as far as extension, there will still be some members of that community who have no place to go,” Hindi said.

“So that’s the biggest challenge right now is that she doesn’t qualify for any of the low-income programs,” Warren said.

City leaders are hoping Essex will consider preserving some of these apartments to prevent tenants from becoming homeless next year.

Essex did not respond to our requests for comment for this story.

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