It is 3 a.m. on a Thursday in August here in Half Moon Bay. I am sleepless — wondering how to pay September’s rent. The Housing Authority of San Mateo County just lowered the federal subsidy payment, and MidPen added its yearly increase. These figures, added together, more than double my rent.

I earned my retirement under conditions of inequality to women. I also realize I am living in a new world, where a dramatic rise in the cost of living has occurred under the burgeoning control of corporate structures unknown in my earning years. I earned a modest Social Security pension, so I am classified by the federal government as “living at or under the official poverty level.” And poverty is the legal name for slavery.

This sudden increase crushes my spirit and reduces me to a parasite living off the government, supposedly helpless and unheard. I grieve the further deterioration of support by the county. It promotes fear and anxiety, especially because of the sudden and unexplained manner of its introduction. Therefore, I write this letter.

Does the county realize their actions will likely result in higher health care costs? For example, I choose to attend exercise classes at the Senior Center. I pay $5 per class, three times a week, which is an investment in my health and well-being. It is a simple preventative, but I will no longer be able to attend. This likely means I will need high blood pressure pills or have a stroke and/or other unspecified treatments. I am not alone; there are others in my classes and my housing. Doubling the rent of seniors who live at or below poverty level will probably raise medical costs to the county. It is not cost-effective.

Why this sudden, crippling and unexplained change of policy? What wasn’t working?

— Joan Germain, Half Moon Bay

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