MODESTO (CBS13) — Modesto senior Carol Gilbert can’t contain her anger.
“It breaks my heart and it makes me so mad I feel like spitting cotton,” Gilbert said.
The 73-year-old lives on a fixed income and she’s watched rent steadily climb at the Stardust Villa apartment complex. Ten years ago her one-bedroom rented for $650 a month. Last year it jumped to $950, and now the complex is charging $1,300 a month.
Unable to keep up with the rising costs, on Tuesday she was busy packing her belongings, leaving with clothes and a bed, while she plans to give away the remainder of her furniture. She has to be out on the first of October.
“I’ve going to have nothing left, my bed waiting to be taken over there,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert fell on hard times after learning her rent program trough Turning Point Housing would no longer be funded. The program provided her with money she needed to subsidize her $650 rent.
“If I hadn’t found a place to live as of October 1st, I would have been homeless,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert receives $877 monthly from social security. From that, she paid $200 toward rent and the rest was covered through the subsidy. She was in a difficult situation because she was told she didn’t even qualify for Section 8 help.
“Who I blame this on is the people who won’t put a cap on the rent raises,” Gilbert said.
Lawmakers passed AB 1482 restricting rent increases more than 5% a year plus inflation. The new rent controls may soon be the law of the land once signed by the governor.
The bill is not helpful for seniors like Gilbert living on less than $1,000 a month. She found the stress of being homeless so unbearable she needed anti-depressants from her doctor.
“I called my doctor and I said, ‘Could you up my prescription?'” Gilbert said. “I couldn’t sleep, I was crying all the time, I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
Gilbert’s neighbors helped her find a room to rent for $450 a month in a senior living mobile home park.
Brian Buckmaster and his wife said they didn’t want to see Gilbert homeless on their watch and even offered up a couch if things got really dire.
“If it’s happening to her, it’s happening to others,” said Buckmaster. “It’s not right. The rent just keeps going up every year to the point people are just moving out.”
Gilbert now considers herself the lucky one.
“I don’t know how to be homeless, I’m 73 years old,”‘ she said.
Her living conditions will still be tight. After paying rent at the mobile home park without the subsidies, she’ll have to survive on $427 a month. She’s thankful to have a roof over her head and to not be living under Modesto’s 9th street bridge, which she says was almost a reality.