I am writing to encourage our community to help us save a very important agency to all of us in the rental world of Santa Barbara. The Rental Housing Mediation Task Force is to be cut from the budget Tuesday at the Santa Barbara City Council meeting.
In a community of high rents, multiple colleges that create thousands of rentals to students and foreigners attending their campuses, as well as to all of us who rent our entire lives, I cannot express enough the importance of this mediation service.
The RHMTF is operated by the very knowledgeable, professional and caring Andrea Bifano, who works with all community services, police, legal system and courts. She knows her stuff! She has helped prevent homelessness for seniors and the Hispanic community, who do not always understand the laws, plus those of us who have disputes with landlords and landlords who need help with tenants. It’s a two-way street. The service is a gold mine of resources and provides a wonderful guide to landlords and tenants to know their rights.
Recently the RHMTF helped prevent a landowner who evicted everyone at the holidays so he could upgrade his facilities, never considering what this does to children in midschool terms or for the holidays, moving in winter and displacing many elderly. The RHMTF was able to balance this situation for several months and help keep children in their same schools and find housing for each and every person! Every single family was placed.
Additionally, the task force has prevented many people from becoming homeless, adding to the enormous numbers we already have.
I want to mention that the RHMTF is operated by an all-volunteer team and one paid employee and moved several years ago into an office space in the Zoning Office. They streamlined and operate at minimal cost very efficiently. Of all things to cut from the budget, this is not it!
Please make your voices heard, whether landowner or renter, and take a moment that could make a huge difference to you someday! Contact your City Council members now at 805.564.5318, or
click here for more information.
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