SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A total of 9,448 San Diego households have been helped with $77.9 million in a first round of rent relief through the city’s COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program, officials announced Wednesday.
“San Diego has done a great job of getting rental assistance into the hands of families and individuals who have been hit hard by the economic impacts of COVID-19, and more dollars are on the way to help those who are still having trouble paying rent and utilities,” Mayor Todd Gloria said at a news conference in Pacific Beach. “I strongly encourage those who might need assistance to apply as soon as possible, and I hope everyone will help get the word out about this critically important program.”
The city and the San Diego Housing Commission have distributed 93% of the $83.7 million of federal rent relief funds initially received in March. An additional $51 million from the American Rescue Plan is available now and another $34 million in federal funding, which was allocated through the state, will be authorized for disbursement this fall.
“The security of having a roof over our heads took a new meaning as we dealt with the fallout of this pandemic,” said Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego. “The housing relief funds delivered San Diegans stability, ensured their public health and provided greater peace of mind.”
The SDHC has received more than 17,400 applications since the program launched. More than 16,500 additional applications have been started but have not yet been submitted.
“This program continues to provide relief and hope to families with low income who have struggled to pay their rent and utilities during the pandemic,” said Richard Gentry, SDHC president and CEO. “The new applications filed each day demonstrate the continuing need in our community.”
One of these applicants, Eric Norris, lost his car and thought he would become homeless after he lost his job early in the pandemic and could not find new employment as it continued.
“I’m just very grateful, from the bottom of my heart — very, very grateful for this program,” said Norris, a Pacific Beach resident who has a master’s degree in computer engineering and now works in information technology for a local hospital. “It’s helped me a lot, and it’s kept me on my feet, and I started back to work a couple of weeks ago.”
Applications for assistance from the program also can provide additional protections for renters who may face potential eviction after the state’s temporary ban on evictions expires Sept. 30. Assembly Bill 832, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on June 28, includes additional protections for renters, effective Oct. 1.
From Oct. 1 through March 31, 2022, landlords who want to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent — when a tenant has experienced a COVID-19- related hardship — must show that they applied for rental assistance and it was denied. If the landlord cannot demonstrate this, the case would be dismissed.
“People’s lives have been turned upside down because of this pandemic,” City Council President Jennifer Campbell said. “Thanks to the leadership in our communities, this program has made all the difference in making sure residents are not displaced and has provided an added layer of support during these perilous times.”
Immigration status does not affect whether or not a household qualifies for help from the program.
Applications may be submitted by a tenant, community-based organization or 211 San Diego on behalf of a tenant. In addition, landlords may initiate applications on behalf of their tenants, subject to the tenant’s review and approval.
For more information about the program, visit the San Diego Housing Commission’s website.
Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.