The city of Monterey has a large numbers of renters; nearly two thirds of residents rent. And in the last few years city council has heard from renters and rental advocates that rents have been rising substantially higher and faster than local salaries. This is putting many of our families in financial distress, creating housing instability and insecurity. In response, the city council asked staff to do community outreach on a possible renter registry, which would allow city staff to know how many rental units exist in the city, the size of the units, the condition of rental properties and the rate of rental increases. This data could inform other actions the city might take depending on what the data show.
However, the first community forum the city hosted raised a number of concerns: privacy, cost, and the potential to incentivize property owners to raise rents even more. Council discussed the forum and how to proceed at the June 20 city council meeting.
At the most recent meeting on rental registry, I shared my concerns about the cost—approximately $400,000/year—to create a registry, and questions about whether data gathering is the best way to help renters. I asked staff to seek community input on other uses of the $400,000 including rental assistance for renters experiencing a health emergency or lost employment, assistance for renters who are displaced and need help with the first, last, or deposit payment to find a new home, reimbursement for rental application fees, legal hotline for renters and landlords, or a community rental board for mediating disputes between renters and landlords.