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Meet Mitch, A Landlord Driven by Compassion
February 25, 2020
by Barbara Collins
This article originally appeared in the January/February edition of Seascape.
Landlords often get a bad rap. No matter how great your apartment is — it’s just plain hard to hand over your hard-earned money on the first of the month. In a city with high housing costs, like Santa Monica, handing over that money is a sharp reminder that affordable housing is hard to come by — a problem Santa Monica is working hard to resolve.
But spending time with Mitch, a managing partner at Oceana Properties Limited, is a heartening reminder that there are landlords who really are on the side of the tenants, have your best interests at heart, and who are thoughtful, compassionate, and intentional about the way they do business. That’s why it’s important to shine a light on someone like Mitch.
LETTING EMPATHY LEAD
Mitch was born in Poland, but made his way to Chicago at the age of nine with his family. After graduating from college, he came to southern California in 1978, looking for opportunity. He found it pretty quickly, in the form of a 4-plex rental property that was for sale in Huntington Beach. He partnered with his mom and aunt to buy it, and his career in property management began.
It wasn’t long until he expanded his horizons, moving north to Santa Monica where he invested in a 30-unit building near Santa Monica College, and after that — a 24-unit building, also in Santa Monica, making for a grand total of 52 local units.
But Mitch found that simply renting apartments to tenants wasn’t enough. He was struck with empathy for people struggling to meet rent. He recognized the psychological and physical challenges that many of them had, and how they could lead to homelessness. He also realized that given just a slightly different set of circumstances, he too, could be vulnerable to the risk of homelessness. This recognition of how vulnerable all of us can be to circumstances that may lead to homelessness is a reality that many of us don’t take the time to contend with.
But it’s a good thing Mitch decided to contend with that fact, because 28 years ago — he made the decision to begin working with the Santa Monica Housing Authority’s Housing Choice Voucher Program — also known as Section 8.
These days, over half of Mitch’s units are allocated to Section 8 rentals. He says that he knows many property managers are wary of renting out to Section 8 tenants, but he’s found it’s really no different than renting to regular tenants. And there’s a wonderful benefit to it — the knowledge of knowing you’re helping people. By helping to lift the burden of high housing costs, you’re affording people the opportunity to live with the security of knowing they have a place to lay their heads at night — and they’ll still have money leftover to meet other living costs, like groceries and medical expenses.
PARTNERING WITH THE CITY
If you’re a property owner interested in partnering with the city to rent units at affordable prices, or for updates on what the city is doing to increase affordable housing, visit santamonica.gov/housing.