Rental Assistance: Broken Promises

Dear Mayor Worden and Councilors Gaasterland, Martinez, Druker and Quirk:


I am writing because I am concerned about circumstances affecting one of my Del Mar friends, David Ralph. As I know you are aware, last September the Council proposed discontinuing the rental subsidy program which currently supports five individuals and families in our town, including Dave. Losing this subsidy would have a devastating effect. There is no possibility that Dave could remain in his home without it. His closest family member, his brother, lives far away, in Florida.


I have had the opportunity to talk with Dave twice recently over coffee about his housing situation. We’ve been friends for 10 years, but on these recent occasions I was particularly interested to ask him about his relationships in our community, of which Dave has been a member for more than 20 years. Please permit me to tell you a little bit about Dave.


Before the auto accident which nearly killed him (he has written an inspiring book about his recovery, Life’s Better:  Overcoming Loss), Dave was a Clinical Psychologist practicing in the building across the street from Del Mar Community Connections. (He is indeed a very lovely person to talk to.)  


Dave has lived in his current home on 9th Street for 15 years. He enjoys gardening and maintains a beautiful one with a sitting area where he can meet friends, meditate and observe birds and our other local fauna. Besides his talent and training as a listener, Dave is thoughtful, intelligent, sensitive, generous, kind and funny. 


His home is perfectly situated near the bus stop where, before the pandemic, he caught the bus to go to yoga class in Encinitas. It is also near DMCC which he relies on for transportation to medical and other appointments—what a wonderful organization! 


His friends are all nearby. 


Following his injury and recovery, Dave was a volunteer for the Del Mar Garden Club (of which I am a Board Member) and worked alongside us maintaining one of the Club’s gardens, at DMCC.  


Surely anyone can imagine how wrenching it would be for Dave to be forced to move from his home of 15 years, where he has been able to maintain his independence despite a life-altering disability and could well continue to do so. 


The proposed “soft landing” is neither humane nor realistic. This is not a solution with heart. If affordable housing could even be found, there is no substitute for the loss of community which Dave and the other recipients would experience. None of us wishes to be a party to this devastation. If you haven’t already seen it, please read Deborah Lyons excellent article in the October 2021 Sandpiper about this subject, “Not So Soft Landing.” While Dave is exceedingly grateful and gracious to anyone who wants to help him, he is not feeling confident about a “soft landing.”


June 30, 2022, the suggested date to phase out the subsidy program, is very fast approaching.


Del Mar is a community of means with many folks who care about their neighbors. Plus, we are required by the State of California to find low-income housing.


If the City really cannot find a place in the budget to provide low-income housing for residents who are already here—frankly a bit hard to imagine—perhaps a designated fund could be set up in the Del Mar Foundation to support low-income housing in Del Mar? I think many of our residents would contribute to such a worthwhile (tax-free) charitable program. Many people with whom I have spoken feel as I do—that it is just wrong to displace our own neighbors, our friends who have long lived amongst us. What kind of community do we want to be? I hope and believe we are a community which would never allow this to happen to one of our own.


I would be most grateful if you could do everything in your power as a Council to restore the rental subsidy to Dave Ralph and the four other individuals and families in our community who receive this assistance.


Thank you for your attention to this important issue.


Tanya Young, Klish Way