FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, Sept. 27, 2021
SAN DIEGO – As part of his efforts to protect renters struggling from the economic effects of the pandemic, Mayor Todd Gloria today highlighted the success of the City’s COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program and announced his proposal to establish a $5 million legal defense fund to support struggling tenants.
The City’s COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program has provided more than $103 million in rent and utility relief to 11,806 San Diego households. Another roughly $54 million has been committed to renters whose applications have received preliminary approval, subject to review and confirmation of their documentation.
“I am incredibly proud of the job our City has done to get assistance to residents who’ve been unable to pay their rent and utilities during this difficult time,” Mayor Todd Gloria said. “I am working with our federal and state partners to bring additional dollars to San Diego to support our program further, and I am asking the City Council to work with me to create a legal-aid program to help San Diegans who are under the threat of eviction.”
Mayor Gloria is actively working with federal officials on a program that could provide additional rental-assistance funding to local governments such as the City of San Diego that have been highly successful in getting relief out to tenants and landlords, as well as advocating for additional state support.
In the meantime, the Mayor on Oct. 5 will present a proposal to the City Council that would use $5 million in federal CARES Act dollars to create a program to provide eviction-prevention education and legal assistance, which would be administered by the San Diego Housing Commission.
City Council President Pro Tem Stephen Whitburn and Councilmember Sean Elo-Rivera joined Mayor Gloria for today’s announcements.
“We can all be proud that the City of San Diego has had one of the most efficient rent-relief programs in the nation,” said Council President pro Tem Whitburn, who represents the 3rd District. “I’m pleased the Mayor is looking ahead at how we can provide information and assistance to renters in the event they face eviction. Evictions can often lead to homelessness, and we simply can’t afford to have more San Diegans living on the streets.”
“Home is the bedrock of security, health, and success,” said Elo-Rivera, Councilmember for San Diego’s 9th District. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, the City of San Diego has preserved this bedrock by protecting residents from eviction, and by supporting them with rental and utility assistance. However, due to overwhelming need, we’ve reached the capacity with our limited resources. Additional investments from our federal and state partners will be crucial in preventing a wave of homelessness, and to holding ourselves to our commitment to the ideal of housing for all.”
The COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program is administered by the San Diego Housing Commission, which has received more than 23,561 applications since the program launched. More than 23,148 additional applications have been started but have not yet been submitted.
“This program already has helped thousands of low-income families and remains an essential resource to help prevent evictions under current state law,” Housing Commission President and CEO Richard C. Gentry said. “The San Diego Housing Commission is working with Mayor Gloria and the City Council to make additional funds available and will continue to issue assistance payments as quickly as possible to help qualifying households remain in their homes.”
Applications for assistance from this program also can provide additional protections for renters who may face potential eviction after the State of California’s temporary ban on evictions expires Sept. 30. Assembly Bill (AB) 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.
Also joining the Mayor today to talk about tenant protections was Gilberto Vera, senior attorney at the Legal Aid Society of San Diego.
“Starting October 1, the remaining tenant protections are tied to tenants applying for emergency rental assistance,” Vera said. “We recommend tenants not only submit rental assistance applications but also regularly check on the status of their application and keep an open line of communication with their landlord. If you are served a tenancy termination notice by your landlord, please call Legal Aid Society of San Diego at 877-534-2524 to receive free legal assistance regarding the validity of your notice before self-evicting.”
Immigration status does not affect whether 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 to submit the application.