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City Program Offering Subsidies for Elderly Poor Renters in Santa Monica to Survey 'Wellbeing'


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

November 1, 2017 -- A delayed pilot project that provides “last resort” City subsidies to help elderly Santa Monica seniors pay their rent is querying the applicants about their “wellbeing.”
The program, called Preserve Our Diversity (POD), was approved by the City Council in late July to address fears that the escalating cost of living could force seniors out of their homes ("Santa Monica Council Approves Experiment in 'Last Resort' Subsidies for Elderly Poor Renters," July 28, 2017).

The City has allocated $200,000 for the subsidies, which is enough to help 26 households in such dire straits they live on cat food or eat only every other day.

Another $100,000 is earmarked for administrative costs.

The long-time tenants of rent-controlled units were extensively vetted to ensure they financially qualified for the City subsidies and are being case managed.

But the City’s “Wellbeing Project” is stepping in as well, according to a memo presented to the City Housing Commission at its October 19 meeting.

The memo said the commission had asked members of the “Wellbeing Project” to be involved.

“Wellbeing” is giving the survey -- although shortened in this case from 41 questions to seven -- used to ascertain the state-of-mind of the City’s overall populace.
The seven wellbeing questions staff recommended for POD participants include:

To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about yourself:
a. I am satisfied with my life as a whole these days
b. I am optimistic about the future
c. I am free to decide for myself how to live my life
d. Most days I get a sense of accomplishment from what I do
e. I generally feel that what I do in my life is worthwhile
f. I seldom have time to do the things I really enjoy
g. When things go wrong in my life it generally takes me a long time to get back to normal
The survey also asks participants if they fell happy, sad, stressed, have lots of energy or feel lonely.

In addition, the survey attempts to determine their level of social interactions, exercise habits and spiritual life; the ways they use to get around and their thoughts about their neighborhood, including how long they plan to remain there.

The questions also address "how worried are you right now" about the following:

a. not being able to make the minimum payments on your credit cards?
b. not being able to pay your rent, mortgage, or other housing costs?
c. that you might lose your source of income in the next six months?
d. about being able to pay for food.
e. Anything else you are worried about?

The scale is from "very worried to not worried at all."

The proposed survey would conclude with the "one thing that can be done to improve the wellbeing of your community."


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