County fund to help pay bills, feed families during coronavirus closures

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SAN DIEGO -- County officials unveiled a new fund Monday to help make sure San Diego residents can make rent, pay bills and put food on the table despite the disruption caused across the country by the spread of coronavirus.

The San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund will be used to give grants to nonprofit groups focused on three key areas: food insecurity, rental and utility assistance, and income replacement or gap funding.

As the pandemic forces the county to shut down schools and workplaces, officials said it was essential to provide for people who were left without childcare options or a paycheck.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher was joined by a coalition of businesses and philanthropic groups including San Diego Gas & Electric, The San Diego Foundation, United Way of San Diego County and the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council to announce the fund.

The groups that were part of Monday's announcement helped provide seed funding for the program, and urged people and organizations across the county to contribute further if they can.

Those wishing to donate can visit the program's new website. People who stand to benefit from the fund do not need to apply directly, officials said, but can instead seek out resources from the nonprofits it helps finance.

"While the fund is not able to provide direct grants to individuals, it will support local nonprofit organizations that have deep experience providing people and families with services and support," the website explains. "If you need resources now, please consider 211 San Diego and San Diego County."

In response to the rising numbers of confirmed cases throughout California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new measures Sunday to prevent further spread of the virus, including restricting capacities at restaurants and closing bars. California residents ages 65 and older were also encouraged to self-quarantine at home.

As of Monday morning, health officials had confirmed 39 cases of COVID-19 in San Diego County.

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