Marin County landlord raises rents on subsidized tenants amid pandemic, holiday season

MARIN CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- In a normal apartment complex in Marin City, the problems keep piling higher.

"My kitchen. This is where I cook," said Lana Gasparyan in the small apartment she worries every waking moment about losing.

Gasparyan is a single mother with two young sons, furloughed with from her job, four months behind in rent and has received threatening notices from her landlord.

"They just don't understand that we are unable to pay rent sometimes," said her teenage son, Ivan

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"I was always on top of everything," explained Gasparyan while standing in her spotless living room.

She is not the only person in trouble at Ridgeway Apartments, and it just got tougher since their landlord, Sacramento nonprofit St. Anton Multifamily, raised the rents beginning next month.

"They keep moving up the rent so we don't have no more money," said Nichol Smith, a disabled tenant.

"Well first of all, nobody got back to us," added Anna Konyukova, a hair stylist living in the complex who has been unable to work.

Ridgeway Apartments are a low income tax project.

St. Anton Multifamily receives federal tax credits for offering discounted rents to tenants in need.

Those rents are updated annually.

In a statement to ABC7, St. Anton Multifamily said, "To meet our underwriting and lender obligations, we update our rents when released by the State of California."

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"They are doing it because they can. That is the greed of this nonprofit," said Tahirah Dean of Marin Legal Aid, who represents a growing number of tenants. She told ABC7 News that most received letters about rent increases, no matter what their income levels.

For Lana, it represents an increase of roughly $200. "It is going to be almost 2,300 a month."

While the St. Anton does have has every legal right to raise rents, tenants ask why is the nonprofit doing so amid roaring pandemic?

When ABC7 posed that question to the nonprofit, though it did not respond.

"It's ridiculous. Come on," said Nichole.

"It is the holidays. We have no presents for anyone," said Konyukova.

"This is not right. The increase is not right," Gasparyan said.

So you might wonder, what do Lana and her two sons really want for Christmas? Simple.

The freedom in tough times to not worry about this roof over their heads.

"Have you ever been more desperate in your life?" ABC7's Wayne Freedman asked.

"No. No. like...Not," she said.

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